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Social care: will carers get choice and control?

We have been waiting for the publication of the Green Paper on Social Care for a few weeks now. I am beginning to think it is like tomorrow – always there but never arrives. The Greater London Authority has a Carers Advisory Group that asked me a few weeks ago to present a summary of the Green Paper to its meeting today. Of course, the damn thing is still not out but of course the show went on and I instead gave some personal thoughts.

Much of the debate focuses on how to fund an expected £6bn plus shortfall in social care funding by 2026 to maintain a creaking care system. It will probably end up involving some form of co-payment system where individuals will have to contribute. However, equally important but less discussed is that the key to maintaining a functioning care system is to support the millions of carers who actually provide the majority of care and support.

Far-sighted people have predicted the number of carers to rise past 9million but we cannot put unreasonable burdens on carers risking their own health and employment, often leading to the carer breaking down. Carers do save the Government billions of pounds, but by being forced to give up work or need healthcare themselves, the Government loses money as well.

The Government has said that choice and control should be principles of any new social care system. But will carers be given the choice and control of how much support they want to and are able to provide? Will carers, and whole families, know what support they are entitled to and what they are giving up if they do decide to become carers?

Currently, many carers do not feel it is a choice that they have made but a life that they were forced into. By properly supporting carers, we could have carers providing the support they want to whilst remaining healthy and active in workplaces and communities. This could mean even greater savings for Government, a more stable social care system and, crucially, happier people.

You never know, maybe the Green Paper is delayed because they are now incorporating these views. If so, sorry about that.

Take Care
Gordon

PS
It was announced in Parliament that The Standing Commission on Carers will place details of the proceedings of its meetings on its website by 31st July

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July 3, 2009 - Posted by | Care and Support Green Paper | , ,

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