§ 4. Mrs. Clwyd
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he last visited a private residential care home for the elderly.
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security (Mr. John Major)
Such visits are made from time to time by Ministers. Most recently I visited such a home in Southampton on 15 January 1986.
§ Mrs. Clwyd
I am sure that the Minister will agree about not only the physical but the emotional needs of elderly patients. Therefore, what plans does he have to improve social work training for careers in those homes, given the present abysmal level, where less than 10 per cent. have any social training qualification at all?
§ Mr. Major
The hon. Lady makes an interesting and useful point. She will know that the registration of homes is the responsibility of social service departments. They must satisfy themselves about the level, adequacy and nature of staffing provided in those homes. They are fully aware of the hon. Lady's point.
§ Mrs. Currie
May I invite my hon. Friend to visit a private residential care establishment for the elderly in my constituency, where he will find that the standards are first-class? They could be copied throughout the rest of the country. Does he agree that, sooner or later, we will need some form of assessment system for people entering private residential care, to ensure that the large sums of public money being spent are being allocated appropriately?
§ Mr. Meadowcroft
Is the Minister aware that the inflexible restrictions on supplementary benefit payments for residential care are causing great distress and tend to hit the nursing element of care? If the Social Security Commissioner upholds the decision of the local tribunal in Leicester of 3 December, which delared that the restrictions were unlawful, will the Minister undertake immediately to withdraw those restrictions?
§ Mr. Meacher
Is the Minister aware that tens of thousands of elderly and disabled people risk acute anxiety as a result of the decision not to cover the rising costs of residential care due to inflation, as a result of which they run a real risk of eviction? Is he further aware that elderly and disabled people whose capital has been depleted below the supplementary benefit level since April last year still have no guarantee of security of tenure? Will he give an absolute and unquivocal guarantee that no elderly person will be evicted from residential care because of the DHSS's failure to cover the full cost of residential charges?
§ Mr. Major
Even under the Government of which the hon. General was a distinguished luminary, that happy circumstance did not not apply. Handicapped people and those who have been in homes for some time might be entitled to special hardship provision, for which my right hon. Frind the Secretary of State has discretion.