Self-funders and long term care: Selected findings from the SIgN project
Kate Baxter | Social Policy Research Unit, University of York
The SIgN (Self-funders and Information Needs) project is a qualitative research study about the information needs of people in England who fund their social care from their own resources, often referred to as self-funders. By social care, we mean care and support provided in a person’s own home or in a care home. The purpose of the study is to develop a resource for use by local council social care practitioners, general practitioners/family doctors, voluntary organisations and others who provide information and advice about social care to self-funders, as well as a short film and accompanying leaflet for self-funders about key information and advice issues.
Research evidence about people who pay for their social care is limited. Estimates of the proportion of self-funders in England vary, with some suggesting around a quarter of care in people’s own homes and almost half of care home places are self-funded. Population ageing and rises in eligibility thresholds for local council-funded care means the numbers are increasing. The importance of self-funders to local councils is also increasing, in part due to new legislation in the Care Act 2014 which stipulated, among other things, that local councils must establish and maintain services to provide information and advice about social care to all local residents, not just those receiving care funded by the council.
For this study, we have carried out semi-structured interviews with 40 self-funders about their need for, experiences of and attitudes towards seeking information and advice about social care, and 19 practitioners about their contacts with self-funders, including typical questions and answers, and challenges in providing information. By the time of the presentation, we will also have interviewed five senior council managers about strategic level issues such as how the self-funding agenda sits alongside other priority areas; and facilitated workshops with self-funders and practitioners to help develop the project outputs.
In this presentation we will use selected findings from the SIgN project to initiate discussion about local and national policies and plans around self-funders. The findings so far show that self-funders and their relatives can struggle to engage with social services; some feel that their status as self-funders leads to them being shut out of such services and denied information, while others were not aware that they had the option of approaching social services for advice or information. Issues covered will depend on those raised in interviews but are likely to include potential inequities between self- and council-funded service users, views on ways to engage people who are likely to be self-funders with local councils and other relevant services, and how other priority programmes of work sit alongside self-funding agendas.