Social care is important

Social care is important. Disabled people want to live and do the things that everyone else does.

Sometimes they need support to do so. That could be a personal assistant to help them get up, get washed and dressed.

Most people would agree that this support should be in place, and would probably expect it to be there when they need it.

That means we get the support to choose when we get up, when we eat, when we go to bed, the places we go and who we see during the day.

All too often this doesn’t reflect the reality of many disabled people’s lives. Angie is 65 and lives in London, and she often has to go without a drink of water because there is no one to help you get to the loo.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can improve the care system and change is happening.

I’m chair of the Care and Support Alliance – 75 leading charities and organisations – who want to improve the care system.

We’ve taken a temperature check of the nation’s thoughts and feelings about social care.

A YouGov survey of more than 4,500 people – one of the largest surveys of its kind – has lifted the lid on how important we think the care system is, and that we want the Government to take action. This is good news.

We are all in this boat together. A third of us have a close family member that relies on care to do tasks as basic as washing or eating.

Sadly, at the same time we fear for the future. Six in 10 people are not confident they will receive sufficient care; that goes up to 7 in 10 for over 60s.

The issue is funding. Councils report that some £3.5bn has come out of the care system. On the front line this means that support is being squeezed, and nearly half a million people have lost out since 2009.

Our findings come as the Government prepares to roll out the Care Act in April 2015, which includes major reforms to care – such as ending the postcode lottery, a commitment to wellbeing and capping care costs.

In the run up to the next election the debate is only going to get more intense. This week the Barker Commission publishes the findings of its inquiry on how to integrate health and care. Recently the Care Minister Norman Lamb reiterated his commitment to bringing the health and care closer together and improving the support people get.

We already have the Better Care Fund, which provides a mechanism to start that process.

These are superb intentions and steps in the right direction.

But let’s not forget, a third of people who rely on locally provided care are disabled people. The big question is how in years to come integration improves the quality of support and lives of disabled people, and helps to realise some of the commendable ambition contained the Care Act.

But, underpinning all of this is the issue of funding. We need a long term commitment for social care by the Government.