Elderly UK expats returning home caught in social care trap

Published:  2 Feb at 6 PM
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British expats returning to the UK with serious health problems are facing a funding lottery harming their care home and social service needs.

It’s sad but true that expat life as a retiree with health problems can result in an unwelcome but forced return to the home country, but the state of social care in the UK is a lottery at best and collapsing at worst. A recent freedom of information enquiry revealed a massive lack of funding across over a hundred local councils which is preventing pensioners getting the care they desperately need. The survey showed three funding policies spread across the 120 councils surveyed, but all are failing to meet the needs of vulnerable old people.

The first and least generous involves a funding cap which will not be exceeded regardless of the amount required to provide care to the needy. The second is a funding cap which is allowed to be breached depending on the merits of individual cases. The third gives no published rates, but agrees case-by-case funding where necessary. Expats most affected by this mish-mash of policies are those who’ve returned home as they can no longer look after themselves overseas.

Understandably, the majority are searching for care home accommodation near long-term friends and family members but, in most cases, this isn’t possible due to spending cuts and mismanagement of available funds. Many care homes are cash cows for their corporate owners and charge unreasonably high fees for a far less than perfect service. Worries over care home services have been the subject of media attention for some years, especially as those the homes are meant to help may not be capable of fighting for their consumer rights.

Local authorities aren’t blameless either, with retirees and their families forced to bargain with bureaucrats on a regular basis simply to ensure adequate care. Of the councils surveyed, some 33 per cent refuse to breach their fixed limits, 50 per cent routinely went over their limits and just one-sixth used the case-by-case basis to allocate care.
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