A few days ago I came across a quote from a young disabled woman that I simply couldn’t believe.” Emma, from Cambridge, said, “Not getting the support I need has meant my life is on hold. I have no routine, I feel socially isolated, lonely and of no value to society. I’m only 24; I feel 84.”
Emma is talking about the effects a lack of proper social care support has on her life. The idea of someone so young feeling that she is of no value to society is a terrible state of affairs, but sadly, Emma is not alone.
Today there are hundreds of thousands of disabled and older people who are not getting the social care support they need to live their lives.
Social care in crisis
It’s fair to say the social care system is on the brink of collapse. Crucially, in a matter of weeks, the Government will be making major decisions about the future of social care when the Care and Support Bill will finally be brought to Parliament.
It comes at this pivotal moment in the reform of the social care system that I have the honour of taking over from Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, as the new Chair of the Care and Support Alliance.
At Scope, our number one priority for a long time has been seeking to persuade the Government to ensure that disabled people get the social care support they need to live independent and active lives.
Care and Support Alliance
As Chair of the Care and Support Alliance, a coalition of over 70 different organisations representing older and disabled people’s concerns of the social care system, it will be a huge privilege to be equally championing the views and concerns of the millions of older people and carers also affected by these reforms.
It’s worth reiterating why so many diverse organisations came together to form this powerful alliance on social care in the first place.
Years of chronic underfunding by successive Governments, followed by unprecedented cuts to council budgets, at a time when there is growing demand for care services, has put the social care system into crisis. Councils have been forced to ‘manage’ the numbers of people they can commit to providing social care support for. In reality this means the vast majority of councils today only provide state-funded social care support for those judged to have at least “substantial” care needs.
Effects of care crisis on disabled people
This has serious implications for disabled people and older people who only have moderate or basic needs and for the millions of carers left to pick up the pieces.
- 40% of disabled people have told us that their social care support does not meet basic needs, such as eating properly, washing, dressing or getting out the house.
- 800,000 older people are unable to get any formal social care support.
- In 2010/11, £5.3 billion was lost to the economy as a result of carers having to give up work. One billion pounds of this was through lost taxes.
But the Care and Support Alliance has a much bigger role to play than just highlighting the problem. We can provide solutions. It is clear to us that setting eligibility for state-funded social care at “moderate” needs would guarantee disabled people and older people an active and independent future.
To that effect, my mandate as the new Chair is clear.
It’s never easy working in coalition. But it is testament to the sheer scale of the crisis engulfing older and disabled people that our sector wide coalition, representing the diverse views of disabled people, older people and carers, has been able to coalesce behind this one crucial issue with one clear solution.
Of course there will be significant cost implications and many people will ask if we can afford this in a time of austerity.
A Joint Committee of MPs and Peers scrutinising the draft Care and Support Bill recently warned that “restricting support and care to those with the highest levels of need will become entirely self-defeating, because it shunts costs into acute NHS care and undermines interventions to prevent and postpone the need for formal care and support.”
For that reason we’re asking the Government to be bold and make a brave choice when it comes to social care. To solve this crisis once and for all by investing in a system that ensures older and disabled people with moderate needs get the support they need to live a life with dignity; to have the support they need to get up, get out, and take part in daily life in their communities.
When faced with stories like Emma’s – can we really afford not to?