The man heading the government's review of the social care system has appealed to ministers not to ignore his blueprint for reform.
Economist Andrew Dilnot said that his commission's report, due to be published next week, represented a 'once-in-a-lifetime' opportunity to change a system that was broken.
His intervention came after Health Minister Paul Burstow warned yesterday that reaction to the report, which says that 'all but the poorest' will have to fund their own care - may be 'lukewarm at best'.
Writing in The Times, Mr Dilnot said that the need for fundamental change was urgent if growing numbers of older people were not to suffer.
"Social care must be about more than just keeping people barely alive," he wrote.
"It's about helping people to be part of the community, giving them greater peace of mind and opportunities to lead fulfilling lives. To ignore this problem any longer is to dismiss people's rights to all these things.