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Rethinking social care and support: What can England learn from other countries?

Caroline Glendinning, David Bell

27 November 2008

Which principles should underpin the reform of care and support arrangements in England?

This Viewpoint, written by Caroline Glendinning at the University of York and David Bell at the University of Stirling, draws on the experiences of other countries to argue that social care is a collective, welfare state responsibility rather than an individual, private responsibility.

Other key points include: 

  • social care arrangements in many other countries are equal and universal: everyone is eligible regardless of wealth, and people with similar levels of disability receive care no matter where they live;
  • local government, English and UK government relationships and responsibilities need to change in order to reform social care arrangements.

Summary

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This Viewpoint draws on the experiences of other countries and sets out a number of principles that should underpin reform of care and support arrangements in England.

Key points

  • Responsibility for funding and providing social care is a collective, welfare state responsibility rather than an individual, private responsibility.
  • Social care arrangements in many other countries are founded on principles of universality – those who are not poor as well as those who are poor are eligible.
  • Equity – between people with similar levels of disability and regardless of where they live – is a key feature of arrangements for funding and providing social care in other countries.
  • Reforming social care requires changes in the relationships and responsibilities of local government, the English and UK governments.
  • Ensuring choice for people needing social care support involves the provision of services as well as cash.
  • Support for family care-giving is an integral part of overall social care policy; however, eligibility for collectively provided social care should not depend on whether or not a carer is available.

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