I agree that the current system of care and support for older people are fragmented and often confusing. A recent Guardian article by Simon Bottery outlines research done by Independent Age into information and advice provided by Local Authorities, highlighting the lack of consistency and quality of information and advice provided.
Before we drive people towards the Local Authority to apply for Attendance Allowance we need to make sure that when they get there they will use the opportunity to provide quality assured care advice.
Attendance Allowance is the most straight forward of older people's benefit,it promotes confidence in the system as is often the only publicly funded help available and should be used to encourage people to approach the Local Authority for care advice.
Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen, it is more likely that if Attendance Allowance is moved to Local Authority administration eligibility will be based on the assessment done under the Care Act eligibility criteria and many will not qualify.
Saving the DWP benefit pot in this way will result in a loss of consumer confidence in the Local Authority resulting in more people avoiding them, the exact opposite of the Care Act's intention.
Why can't we use this fantastic benefit as a gateway to information and advice. Work together as the Care Act intends and when an application for Attendance Allowance is received by the DWP a Local Authority 'Care Navigator' assigned.
It is clear that for this to happen a consistent approach is needed. Achievable if those providing the information and advice have achieved the SOLLA Care Advice Standard.
We can train 'Care Navigators' to achieve this standard, support Local Authorities to get quality assured advice to people earlier, promoting independence by making use of prevention services, helping people to plan for care and support hospital discharge.