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Care demands a bigger cake

This week has been a busy one with two key things happening: the joint meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Groups for Carers; Dementia; Disability; Equalities; Ageing and Older People; and Social Care and a roundtable meeting that The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and Crossroads hosted to forge greater joint campaigning between disability and carers groups.

The joint APPG meeting focused on soon to be published Green Paper on Social Care (England only) which is expected to propose that everybody will have an entitlement to social care support if needed but that everybody, except the poorest, will have to pay a sum or make contributions towards this new system. These contributions could be through regular payments during you working life, a lump sum payment on retirement or even a payment taken from your estate on death. If you don’t blow it all in Vegas.

As well as proposing what might be fair to ask people to put into a new social care system, the Green Paper will ask what is fair for us to get out of a new system, and whether this should be the same no matter where you are in England.

The Green Paper is not expected to propose national uniformity compared to the current local authority right to plan and deliver its own services – so Reading can still be different to Newcastle. However, it is expected that the Green Paper will propose a right to ‘portability’, meaning that if you move from Reading to Newcastle, you get to take the exact same support package with you.

Anyway, I could be completely wrong and unfortunately there are little leaks about it, unlike the roofs of Parliament during the thunderstorms on Tuesday evening. Staff were running about taking bins from rooms to place under huge drips in the corridors and I did even see people using umbrellas inside. Unfortunately, not one person was singing in the rain…

To more serious matters of our roundtable discussions with Carers UK, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Mencap and other organisations where cakes were the big talking point. Alas not a cake for my impending birthday, but a reference to the agreement that disability and carers groups should together demand a bigger financial cake for social care, rather than arguing amongst themselves for shares of the same cake.

A Care and Support Alliance has been created and one of its aims will be to argue for social care to receive greater funding and prominence a la the NHS. This had also been discussed at the APPG meeting mentioned above and indeed the Dept of Health hosted Health & Social Care Awards last week (my boss knows how to show me a good time).

However, two things suggest we have a long way to go:
1. At the awards ceremony, most of the awards focused on health rather than social care services which gave a telling indication of priorities.
2. In discussing future spending cuts, both Labour and Conservative parties have sanctified the health service as something untouchable but social care has gone largely unmentioned.

What is it about social care in comparison that we do not value as much? It is because there are no last minute life-saving miracles? Is it because professions in health care are perceived to have greater standing than those connected with social care? Is there a problem with the very term ‘social care’ conjuring up images of Government intervening in social issues rather than assisting the maintenance of people’s health and quality of life? Could it be that we need George Clooney to reprise his Dr Doug Ross role in ER, but instead play an Occupational Therapist in Chorley?

Answers on a postcard please…

Update 15 July: read the Trust’s response to the Care and Support Green Paper

Take Care
Gordon

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July 10, 2009 - Posted by | Care and Support Green Paper | , ,

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