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Funding health and social services for older people: a qualitative study of the views of care recipients in the last year of life

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  • B Hanratty
  • E Lowson
  • L Holmes
  • G. Grande
  • J. Addington-Hall
  • Sheila Payne
  • J. Seymour
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Article numberJRSM-11-0189
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2012
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine
Issue number5
Volume105
Number of pages7
Pages (from-to)201-207
StatePublished
Early online date25/04/12
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Objectives This study explores the views of older adults who are receiving health and social care at the end of their lives, on how services should be funded, and describes their health-related expenditure.

Design Qualitative interview study

Setting North West England

Participants 30 people aged 69–93 years, diagnosed with lung cancer, heart failure or stroke and judged by health professionals to be in their last year of life. Sixteen participants lived in disadvantaged areas.

Main outcome measures Views of older adults on funding of services.

Results Participants expressed a belief in an earned entitlement to services funded from taxation, based on a broad sense of being a good citizen. Irrespective of social background, older people felt that those who could afford to pay for social care, should do so. Sale of assets and use of children's inheritance to fund care was widely perceived as an injustice. The costs of living with illness are a burden, and families are filling many of the gaps left by welfare provision. People who had worked in low-wage occupations were most concerned to justify their current acceptance of services, and distance themselves from what they described as welfare ‘spongers’ or ‘layabouts.’

Conclusions There is a gap between the health and social care system that older adults expect and what may be provided by a reformed welfare state at a time of financial stringencies. The values that underpinned the views expressed – mutuality, care for the most needy, and the importance of working to contribute to society – are an important contribution to the debate on welfare funding.