Yesterday nearly a thousand older and disabled people travelled from around the country, and as far as Newcastle and Cornwall with a clear message for their MPs: The social care system is in deep crisis, and this will continue to worsen unless the Government acts now.
Paul Burstow, the Care Services Minister, held a live Q&A with older and disabled people at the mass lobby, and said that he was hopeful for how the forthcoming white paper on social care would be received. “We have spent a good deal of time thinking about these issues and reflecting on them. But the challenge is going to be translating from the legislation into effective changes on the ground.”
Actor and TV Presenter, Tony Robinson, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador who joined the campaigners in lobbying his MP said: “It is an undeniable fact that the social care system is in crisis. Millions of people are being forced to pay huge amounts for care which all too often doesn’t even meet their most basic needs.
“The Care and Support Alliance lobby shows how passionate people are about the need for change. Their voices have to be listened to. We can’t afford to miss this opportunity of a lifetime to create a fair and sustainable care system which delivers dignity, independence and peace of mind for those who need it.”
Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Care and Older People, who met older and disabled campaigners today said: “This lobby couldn’t come at a more important time. The Health & Social Care Bill is still being discussed in Parliament and cross party talks on social care funding are underway.
“Reforming the care system is a top priority for the Labour Party and it should be a top priority for the Government too.
This event is a real inspiration to me as I am sure it will be to all other MPs who came along today.”
Susan Carter from Age UK Darlington said ”It is crucially important for us to attend today to highlight dignity and respect for older people and their care in the future. Meeting our local MP was hugely beneficial, we hope to see some changes in Darlington soon.”
Janet Brown, a deafblind woman and campaigner for the charity Sense, said: “I got up at 5am this morning and travelled from Manchester because I am so worried about the future of social care. I am both deaf and blind, so I need support to do a lot things including leaving my home which is impossible otherwise. This makes me feel very depressed.”
Today’s mass lobby of Parliament was organised by the Care & Support Alliance which represents over 60 charities and organisations across the social care and health sector. The Alliance argues that chronic underfunding of social care combined with rapidly growing demand for care and cuts to local government budgets have left the system in crisis.
Nearly a thousand older and disabled people and carers travelled to Parliament from across the country to tell their personal experiences of trying to access support. MPs heard stories from some of the estimated 800,000 older people who need care but are receiving none; disabled people unable to access enough support to live independently; families paying huge care bills for basic care and carers pushed to breaking point caring for loved ones round the clock.
The event also involved the world’s first Twobby (online lobby) – as hundreds more older and disabled people and family members who were unable to attend in-person participated in the online, tweeting questions and stories to their MPs.
The Care & Support Alliance has warned the Government not to kick big decisions on the future of social care into the long grass and yesterday wrote an open letter to Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health, published in the Guardian calling on the Government to seize the opportunity for lasting reform. The Alliance is calling for structural reform of the outdated social care system, sustainable additional funding and certainty for individuals through the introduction of national eligibility criteria and a cap on care costs.
Further details of what happened on the day are available here…