Increasingly older people who need care have to find it and pay for it themselves, whether this is help with everyday tasks to more personal care. These people have become known as ‘self-funders’. Cuts in local authority budgets mean that fewer people which receive help with social care from the state and will need to buy the care they need via a market of social care providers. Many people will be faced with making difficult decisions about care, often at a time of crisis or ill health. Very often family members are able to step in and make arrangements on behalf of an older person but not always. This means that some older people will be navigating our complex social care system on their own.
Our project is about understanding older people’s care journeys and the ethical dilemmas within the self-funding landscape. We want to understand how older people find and manage their own care. What are the risks and responsibilities for older people, but also their informal unpaid carers, and professionals such as social care practitioners, service providers and commissioners.
We are placing older people’s experiences at the centre of our project as we know that older people’s voices are rarely heard within policy debates. We are talking to older people who are funding their care over an 18 month period. But it is also important to hear from others so we are also interviewing the family and friends who support older people, as well as decision makers such as local authority commissioners and people who provide care services to older people.
We want to understand older people experiences of self-funding their care and use these to develop a dialogue with those who provide and commission care services. Our key goal is ultimately to broaden the debate on social care and develop a wider understanding of the issues.