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CSA’s response to the Government’s Health and Social Care NI increase

September 7, 2021

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK and co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance said:

“Our initial assessment is that while the Prime Minister’s announcement doesn’t give us everything we wanted and we are worried about the funding, it is definitely worth having and a once in a generation opportunity to improve social care that must not be allowed to slip away.”   

“At last, there’s some hope for a better future and we all stand to gain, since any of us, at any age, could develop a need for care.” 

“If the Prime Minister’s proposals are put into action he will deserve real credit for breaking a log jam that has held back social care reform for far too long. The intense debate about how to pay for it must not obscure the paramount importance of action being taken now to stabilise and rebuild care, especially after its terrible mauling by COVID-19.” 

“At £86,000 the cap provides some much needed certainty and removes the fear of care bills spiralling to infinity, though at that level it will help fewer people than many had hoped. A more generous means test is arguably the more significant announcement for most and will result in greater numbers receiving at least some financial help. However, there is a lot of devil in the detail which we need to understand before reaching a final judgement. 

“The NHS is being given extra funding upfront and social care desperately needs that too. Unless the Chancellor delivers substantially more investment into councils’ budgets in the autumn Spending Review there’s a real risk that the Prime Minister’s announcement will fall flat.”  

“The proposals are broader than many expected and some of the non-cap elements that will be fleshed out later this year have exciting potential to increase the quality and quantity of care on offer to older and disabled people, and their families caring for them, as well as how joined up it is with the NHS, of great importance to many frail older people in particular. We look forward to hearing more.   

“It’s good to see serious investment in workforce training – though we doubt this will prevent disillusioned staff from continuing to drift away for better paid jobs elsewhere. On the care workforce we wanted the Government to go further and do more to improve terms and conditions.” 

CSA’s response to the Queen’s Speech

May 11, 2021

On 11 May, the Queen’s Speech set out the Government’s agenda for the next session of Parliament.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK and Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance said:

“After an awful lot of dithering the Government has finally nailed its colours to the mast by formally committing to social care reform this year. The question now is how good the Government’s proposals will be, not whether there will be any at all, so this is an important step forward for the millions of older and disabled people and carers who deserve so much better than what’s often on offer to them today.

“Ministers have made it clear that they see a cap on sky high care costs as the centrepiece of their reforms, because it is so evidently unfair for anyone to be financially ruined by long term care bills. However, this is not the only unfairness in how care operates today, and it would be a bizarre outcome if we gave more protection to home owners, while leaving those with fewer assets to the current underfunded system. This would especially disadvantage sick and disabled adults who have just as much right to decent care as older people. So as well as bringing forward some kind of cap, there is no avoiding the need for the Government to invest billions more into care – topping council budgets back up again after having allowed them to fall so disastrously over the last decade.

“The final essential element is the need for the Government to professionalise the care workforce, giving care workers the terms and conditions, and career structure, that should rightfully be theirs’ after their magnificent performance during the pandemic. It’s high time we ended the situation in which care staff are constantly the poor relations of their equivalents in the NHS.”

“If the Government brings forward a package of reforms of scale and ambition, backed up by the funding required, we will be able to hold our heads up high again as a nation, consigning our current, shamefully neglected social care system to the past, where it belongs. If this happens older and disabled people, and their carers, will be able to breathe more easily, confident that they will get the help they know they need.”

A Cry for Hope – our new report published today

March 13, 2021

Our new report A Cry for Hope: why 2021 must be the year for social care reform based on a survey of over 4,000 people who need social care is published today.  The report reveals that because of a lack of care 1 in 7 (14%) said they needed hospital treatment, and more than a quarter (28%) said their health had deteriorated.

The situation was worse for carers where 2 in 5 (41%) said their health had deteriorated because of their caring responsibilities.

The revealing statistics show how a lack of social care can dangerously impact people’s health and, potentially, overstretched hospitals. Further statistics reveal that nearly 1 in 4 said they had asked for help during the pandemic but didn’t receive any.

The survey of 4,005 people also revealed, because of a lack of care:

  • Nearly 1 in 10 (9%) missed medical appointments
  • More than 1 in 10 (12%) have been unable to get food or shopping
  • More than 1 in 3 (32%) have felt lonely
  • More than 1 in 10 (11%) have been unable to work

A further 1 in 10 said they were often worried about how to cope and stay safe and

3 in 10 (31%) of those who had difficulties doing day to day activities said they never got any help or assistance.

The Alliance is calling on the Prime Ministers to treat social care with the same parity of esteem as the NHS and to fulfil his promise to fix social care by urgently bringing forward reforms and increasing funding so people can get the care they need.

The survey results are published in a new report ‘A Cry for Hope: why 2021 must be the year for social care reform’. Alliance Chairs who are also senior charity leaders: Caroline Abrahams at Age UK; Emily Holzhausen at Carers UK; and Jackie O’Sullivan at Mencap have reflected on the experiences of the different groups they represent: older people, working age disabled adults and unpaid carer, all of whom have been hit hard by the pandemic:

Caroline Abrahams, Co-chair of the CSA and Charity Director of Age UK, said: “Our threadbare social care service was already unable to help a large portion of those who needed care before the pandemic, now its fragility is adding unnecessary pressure on hospitals just when we are all making huge sacrifices in order to protect the NHS. We know unpaid carers and care staff are doing all they can but there simply isn’t the money to give people the care they need.

“Good quality care and support results in healthier people, and whilst that might mean greater investment in social care, it has the potential to save NHS resources. More importantly, it is the right thing to do.  These two important issues are interdependent and need to be treated equally so people can get the care they need.”

Sue Gallagher, 77, whose husband didn’t receive the care he needed and ended up being sectioned in hospital for 11 weeks, said:

“The lack of adequate social care support before the pandemic started was a real issue and because of a lack of care during the pandemic he spent much more time in hospital than should have been necessary. Families like mine continue to find things difficult. I’m worried about the lack of support for people’s conditions, as well as for their loved ones at home.”

Sue and Bernard’s story: At the end of 2019 Bernard Gallagher, aged 84 from Kenilworth in Warwickshire, was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. His wife Sue, aged 77, was looking after him at home but needed some respite care. Bernard went to stay in a care home, but it was unsuitable, he ran away and after two days Sue had to bring him back home. Despite struggling to cope, over five months she received no help of social care. Sue asked for him to be assessed by their local doctor but was told they had sicker patients to look after.

From this point, Sue received no social care support at home, support that she believes could have helped them both and ultimately could have prevented Bernard from being sectioned for 11 weeks in hospital during the first lockdown in April, after he was eventually assessed by a new practice.

When asked ‘What does good care mean to you?’, people said:

“Better support for the person I care for would reduce my care and support needs, giving both of us better quality of life.”

“Everything.”

“Having control over my life.”

You can download a full copy of the report here.

Update on petition to stop cuts to disabled people’s care

January 8, 2021

At the end of 2020, the CSA supported a petition hosted on change.org by Jo, mother to Darcie who is autistic. Jo’s petition called on the Government to stop the cuts to disabled people’s care, and instead make sure that people got the care they needed, especially during the pandemic.  

A total of 8,148 people signed the petition supporting Jo. In the first lockdown the sudden loss of care had a big impact of Jo’s mental health and on her daughter Darice’s wellbeing. As a volunteer for the Norwich branch of the National Autistic Society Jo could see she was far from alone in struggling to cope without basic care.

Even before the pandemic, 2 in 3 autistic adults didn’t get this crucial basic support, and across England over 1.5 million disabled people, older people and their unpaid carers are living without the care they need. Basic care like help with getting washed, dress and helped with meals. Families are being pushed to break point trying to fill the gaps in the system, which has been made worse by the coronavirus outbreak.

Jo didn’t get the support she needed because her council, like councils up and down the country, just haven’t been given the money by Government to provide these services. This isn’t a luxury, it’s what people’s loved ones need to live a decent life.

Those who signed the petition urge the Government to act as soon to ensure people get the care they need. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, the CSA will be working hard throughout 2021 to keep highlighting why more funding and reform is urgently needed.

CSA’s response to the government’s spending review

November 25, 2020

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director of Age UK and Co-Chair of the Care and Support Alliance said:

Today the Government passed up the opportunity to play fair with social care, instead granting it insufficient extra money to safeguard the current level of services through next year. Against the context of the pandemic, which is both driving up the level of need, and weakening the finances of providers, this is a decidedly reckless approach. Local authorities are once again being asked to square an impossible circle and this ungenerous settlement does very little to help the NHS either. However, it’s older and disabled people, and their families and carers, who will as ever pay the biggest price, with more likely to have to manage without the support they need. This is a bitter pill to swallow, especially after everything social care has been through this year.

 “The Spending Review documentation says that the Government will bring forward proposals on the longer-term reform of care in 2021, but as a result of the decisions announced today social care will be even weaker by then than it is now. It’s hard not to conclude we’ve gone backwards.”