SCOTTISH Labour and the Conservatives have vowed to go further than the SNP to end the “dementia tax” that leaves self-funding care home residents facing up to 40% higher fees.

The party has committed to a significant increase in free personal and nursing contributions if it is re-elected to government, which will almost double the current allowance given to self-funders to about £421.

Alzheimer Scotland says that while “very welcome”, it would like to see a more individualised approach rather than a flat-rate increase because healthcare costs are considerably higher for those in the advanced stages of the disease.

Dementia care is complex, which means care providers often charge a premium rate.

READ MORE: Cross-border care home funding row as 97-year-old left paying full cost of fees 

The extra costs are said to be on average 15 per cent more than standard social care but have been known to be as much as 40% greater.

The charity says the current system results in people with advanced dementia paying for what is essential nursing care that would be free if they had cancer simply “because they are in a care home and not a hospice”. 

It wants to see individual assessments carried out with state contributions matching the healthcare required.  

The Herald:

The charity’s campaign, backed by The Herald, has cross-party support, which could have implications for the SNP’s own proposals, if the party does not obtain a majority in the forthcoming elections.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Douglas Ross of the Conservatives have both said they fully endorse the campaign’s aims, while the Scottish Greens and the Liberal Democrats have previously voiced their support.

READ MORE: SNP vows to double care home allowances for self-funders 

Mr Sarwar said: “We cannot allow people with dementia to be stuck with crippling care bills and paying more for care than others. 

“Scottish Labour’s National Care Service will end this disparity between health and social care, and I fully support all efforts to increase funding to ensure that support for people with Alzheimer’s is freely available at the point of need.” 

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross added: “To better support people with advanced dementia, we would provide an individual assessment of their health and care needs and review what changes are required to ensure payments sufficiently cover the cost of their care.

“This would be part of wider social care reforms that would guarantee everyone with care needs receives the person-centred support they deserve.”

The cost of dementia to the UK is currently £34.7 billion a year, which works out as an average annual cost of £32,250 per person.

Two-thirds of this cost is currently being paid by people with dementia and their families, either in unpaid care or in paying for private social care. The majority of those in care homes have dementia.

Jim Pearson, head of policy and research at Alzheimer Scotland, said: “The increase proposed by the SNP is a welcome step forward but it makes the assumption that everyone has the same care needs. 

“What we are saying is that everyone needs to have an individualised assessment of their health and care needs and a corresponding increase in free personal and nursing contributions that equates to the cost of care that they need.

“That is the only way it will be fair and will deliver free healthcare for people with advanced dementia. We have to acknowledge that there will always be people with a higher need and if all you is pay a flat rate there will always be people paying a contribution to care that would otherwise be free.”

READ MORE: Concern over rise in care home residents forced to sign 'fee guarantee'contracts 

Asked if the proposals would include individual assessments, a spokesperson for the SNP said “the detail will be determined by the consultation and Bill process for the creation of the National Care Service”.

The Herald:

Both Glasgow’s Golden Generation, which provides financial advice for those progressing to residential care, and Battle Against Dementia, which raises funds for therapeutic projects, said they would like the SNP’s proposals to go further.

Lynn Campbell, Senior Welfare and Benefits Advice Officer, at Glasgow’s Golden Generation, said: “Glasgow’s Golden Generation welcomes the 
cross-party commitment to higher allowances for people self-funding their own residential care and looks forward to seeing this ratified by Holyrood when it reconvenes. 

“Whilst this is a significant step in the right direction, GGG continues to support Alzheimer Scotland’s Fair Dementia Care Campaign and hopes to see further commitment to change.”