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MPs Hear Carers Issues

As part of Carers Week, we held an event for new MPs to meet carers. It was set up like speed dating with a couple of carers at each table and the MPs moving around each table after five to ten minutes talking and listening to the carers.

What struck me was that the issues that carers were talking about were not things that MPs or even national government have responsibility for. In contrast, new MPs may arrive at Parliament relishing the opportunity to radically improve things by passing laws or contribute to grand plans. And yet, it seems to be the details that are dealt with at a local level that are what people want focus on.

Carers need children and adult services to work better together. They need local commissioning of support services such as training, emotional support and breaks. They need cooperation between local authorities and hospitals to improve discharge processes. They need health and social professionals to listen to them.

National Government can and have produced guidance on these issues but responsibility for carrying them out is at the local or even individual level.

We saw the powerlessness of MPs when many lobbied their local PCT to spend the Carers’ Strategy money. But despite the Prime Minister announcing the money was to double respite care; despite Government Ministers stating that they wanted PCTs to use the full allocation on carers; and despite MPs writing letters and meeting PCT Chief Executives, many PCTs still decided to use the money elsewhere.

The trend is towards local decision making so the focus on national MPs may become ever more misplaced. May 6th was an important day – there were approximately 9000 councillors elected.

It was good to hear Paul Burstow MP (Minister for Care Services) say in Parliament yesterday that he would never lose sight of carers, but it’s councillors and local health and social care professionals that have the power to change carers’ lives for the better. They don’t need to wait for new legislation or national government, they can make the changes now.

Take Care,

Gordon

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June 17, 2010 - Posted by | Carers Strategy, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats, Social Care | , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. Of course you are right that councillors have power to make things better for carers, and it’ s good that so many carers got to talk to MPs. But the carers in greatest need- the carers who have to care 24 hours a day seven days a week, couldn’t get there because they were busy caring!!

    What those carers need is more high quality respite care.And the way things are going, they’re not going to get it.Encouraged by Government,many councillors are increasingly busy making “efficiency savings” to ensure that high quality respite care provided by voluntary orgnisations is replaced by cheaper- but inevitably lower quality – respite care provided by commercial organisations mainly seeking profits. As a consequence,not only do 24/7 carers suffer from lower quality,less reliable care, but the pay and conditions of already lowly paid care workers are reduced still further.

    And the Government promise us a rising tide of “efficiency savings”. As ever, they tell us that, as a consequence of the financial crisis “There is no alternative”. There are alternatives, but that’s another much longer story.

    Comment by Peter Senker | June 17, 2010 | Reply

  2. Dear Gordon

    I agree with your perspective on the issues facing carers; however at the table I was on we did stress the gap between policy and local practice and the problems that posed for carers. The other point to make regarding what you say is that we still need to press government not just to keep up the support that carers do get now, but to increase the financial support in terms of welfare reform and possibly the ring-fencing of funds, so that money allocated for carers is protected.

    Finally, just to say that I am proud to say that Camden Carers Centre does a brilliant job in supporting carers in the ways you suggest, as do many other Carers Centres around the country – they really do represent a safety net for carers who often have been passed from pillar to post around the system (and being left in need by statutory services).

    All the best and Happy Carers Week to all carers …

    Jill

    Comment by Jill Pay | June 17, 2010 | Reply

  3. Dear Peter

    I just wanted to assure you that the carers who were able to attend on Tuesday, including myself, ensured that we made clear the plight of those carers whose lives are totally overwhelmed by their caring role. In fact I repeatedly said how shameful it is in 21st century Britain, that families and their carers are left to struggle in poverty, poor housing, and with little or no support or break from their situation.

    Also I wholeheaertedly agree with you that of course there are real alternatives to what the government says – it’s always a matter of priorities with spending. They could choose to spend more on social care and less on other things.

    I wish you all the best,

    Jill

    Comment by Jill Pay | June 18, 2010 | Reply

  4. Trouble is I think that politicians only half-hear the words “social care” and think we’re asking for more money for “socialists” LOL

    Comment by charles47 | June 18, 2010 | Reply


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