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Another victim of the UK's care crisis emerged today: Wing Commander Bransome Burbridge. He was one of the most effective night fighters of World War II, shooting down planes and flying bombs and saving hundreds of lives. He was awarded medals for his achievements, but now his family has been forced to sell them to pay for his care.

How can this be right?


The story emerged in the Daily Telegraph. The Wing Commander won the Distinguished Service Order and Distinguished Flying Cross twice. The medals were among his most prized possessions.

However, now at the age of 93, he is is suffering Alzeimer's, and is living in a private care home. His family is concerned that the cost of his care could hit as much as £120,000 over the next six years, so they are selling the medals and his flying jacket at auction in order to pay for his care.

One RAF veteran's association, told the Daily Mail it was a 'kick in the teeth' for a man who had done so much for his country.

Not alone

However, his situation is not uncommon. Andy James, advice policy manager at Towry points out that while a quarter of individuals will spend very little on care, 10% will have to face fees in excess of £100,000.

Chris Horlick, MD of Care for Partnership says that currently 43% of people have to pay all their care costs, 57% have to pay at least some of the cost, and 25% of all those who pay for themselves eventually run out of money and have to fall back on the state.

Cap?

Many people might assume that the government commission and proposals for a cap on the cost of care should help put an end to these sorts of desperate measures. Jeremy Hunt announced this month that costs would be capped at £75,000 from 2017 - after which taxpayers would cover the cost of care.

However, this is just part of the story. James added: "There will still be additional costs to meet over and above the cost of care should an individual enter a care home. " Horlick points out that the cap only applies to the 'personal social care' part of the bill - which is typically a third of the cost of residential care.

Desperate

It means that there will still be hundreds of thousands of prized possessions and family homes sold to pay for the basic care people need as they get older.

As Dr Ros Altmann, Saga Director-General, says: "This is much worse than pensions crisis - at least some people have prepared for pensions: With pensions, although not enough has been saved privately to give everyone a comfortable retirement, at least billions of pounds is already earmarked, but there is hardly anything saved by anyone!"

But can it be right that older people are being left to fend for themselves? Is this a cost the government simply cannot afford to face, or have older people earned the right (either through active service or by dutifully paying decades of tax) to be cared for when they are most vulnerable and in need?

What do you think? let us know in the comments.



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