THE COST of providing free personal care for Scotland’s elderly has almost trebled over the past eight years, official figures today showed.
More than £450 million has been paid out to fund care for people in their homes and in care homes charges.
More than 70,000 pensioners get the “vital universal benefit” which means they aren’t stuck in hospital and can live at home, according to health minister Alex Neil .
The cost of care for people living at home reached £347million in 2011/12, up £5 million on the year before, and a hike from £133 million in 2003/04.
The cost of payments to self-funding residents in Care Homes has increased each year from £86 million in 2003/04 to £111 million in 2011/12. This is up £3 million on the previous year.
Mr Neil said: “Free personal and nursing care is a vital universal benefit and these latest figures show that this distinctive Scottish policy is touching the lives of more than 70,000 older people.
“These figures are a great example of the kind of improvements we can make to people’s lives when we are able to take the decisions about what happens in Scotland here in Scotland.”
The rise in personal care costs is down to an increasing proportion of older people being cared for at home, rather than in hospital or care homes, with many having greater levels of need.
Mr Neil added: “I believe it is only right that older people feel fully supported to live at home or in a homely setting within their own communities for a long as possible. Not only have we seen a 42 per cent rise in the number of people receiving personal care at home in Scotland since 2003-4 but today’s figures show that people are now receiving more time with carers each week.”