Carers high on the agenda for the Care and Support Bill, but this still won’t stop people’s care needs getting worse

On Wednesday,  the biggest unkept secrets of the year finally emerged – the long awaited White Paper and draft Bill on social care.

Let’s start on the positive side. The one thing you can say is that carers have well and truly arrived. From a  quick count, carers get more than 100 mentions in the White Paper, and more than 200 in the draft Bill itself. This may not mean that the proposals solve all carers problems, of course,  but no-one could say that carers’ issues have been overlooked this time.

However, I’m concerned about whether the proposals overall  will push us towards  a system  which meets needs more effectively, or not. With pressure on services, only people with the most serious needs ever get anything. This means that people who start off with low level needs get worse and worse until they reach crisis point. This is not a good way to run a care system.

So where is the prevention approach in social care? Well, the Government would argue that the support for carers, and the duty to provide information they’re introducing are preventative . I agree we need both of these.

Provision of information is crucial but it’s no good just bunging something on a website or giving someone a leaflet. People need different information at different times and out experience is that nothing beats local face to face information and advice. I hope local authorities  ill take this duty seriously and back it up with the resources needed to do it properly .

The proposals should give carers enhanced rights to assessment, and local authorities will have a duty to meet assessed needs  although they  will be able to charge for these if you have more assets than the limit allowed, which takes the shine off it somewhat. It seems a bit of a cheek to have a carer’s assessment, be told you need a break, and then be told that you’re going to have to pay for it yourself. If it were me, I would be thinking, so what was the point of that then?

Information and advice and support for carers, crucial as they are, can only be part of the prevention agenda. In a climate where the basic community based services which people use to prevent isolation and get support – lunch clubs, libraries, social groups – are closing their doors, then it’s hard to see how  this gap will be plugged.  I don’t see this legislation meeting the preventative social care needs of vulnerable people within our communities, meaning a continuation of the intolerable position where you have to be in dire straits before any support is available at all, unless you can pay for it of course.

Also, the elephant in the room is that  there’s no resolution of the money issue. You’ll perhaps have heard us banging on about the Dilnot proposals – the cap on the amount people will have to pay for care, and so on. Well, the Government has broadly accepted the principles  –  definitely a step forward, but it falls short of actually grabbing the bull by the horns and doing it. Wait, it says, until the next Spending Review and we’ll deal with it then. That’s all we’ve heard for years – wait, wait wait. Well, we’re still waiting.

July 13, 2012 - Posted by | Carers Strategy, Social Care | , ,

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