This is part 2 of the previous blog, so read that now if you haven’t. We established that individuals and Government have a responsibility to provide care.
The Coalition Government have created a commission to look at the funding of care and support in England. A chief consideration will be creating either a mandatory or voluntary insurance scheme whereby you pay in advance of having care needs and the policy will cover the costs of your support needs that are not met by the Government’s contribution.
So, I pay £20 p/m and then when I’m 75 and need support to live at home or residential care, my insurance company will cover the costs (let’s assume reasonable insurance companies for this blog’s purpose). Sounds simple.
But what if my wife (this isn’t a public proposal Mum) decides that she would like to care for me and doesn’t care that the insurance wouldn’t pay her to do it? We’ve just paid all that money for no reason. This could lead to two things:
1. Fewer people provide care because they feel as though the insurance company, or Government if it is publicly run, should pay for all care
2. People don’t pay for insurance because they expect to receive family provided care
Let’s start with the first scenario. Fewer people caring increases demand on paid care, pushing up costs of the system. This is bad news for a Commission that is trying to create a more sustainable system because of projected funding gaps. If carers currently provide £87bn worth of care, the system could very quickly become completely unsustainable if families stop caring.
But the second scenario doesn’t look good either. This would increase the demands on families to provide care when we already know there is too much pressure on them currently.
The solution to overcome these problems must encourage and account for families who are providing care.
There is no way of knowing how much informal care you will receive whilst paying your insurance, which is generally before you have support needs. So the only way to recognise the caring contribution is by giving rebates to families when they are providing care.
Does this solve the problem? Not quite. How much do you decide to give them?
It’s another ‘to be continued’ as the next blog will look at this question.
Till next time, take care
It’s the waiting that’s the worst. So say civil servants, local authorities and the NHS as they wait to find out exactly what the Government plans are. Carers are maybe more used to waiting.
They wait months for a hoist that will help lift a disabled husband out of bed. They wait for information and basic training to care for a daughter dying of cancer. They wait for a break from caring 24/7 for elderly parents who live with them.
Words are spoken and strategies published but for too many, the waiting continues.
I don’t think anybody should underestimate the scale of what new Government ministers have to learn and comprehend in a very short space of time. There are also lots of competing priorities to order but next week is Carers Week and it is time for carers to wait no longer.
I met Paul Burstow MP (new Minister for social care) on Monday. He told me that they made a firm pledge to increase access to respite care and they would deliver on it. Carers now need to know how this will be achieved and when.
I also met the new Labour shadow Minister for social care – Barbara Keeley MP. She has consistently campaigned for carers locally and in Parliament and worked on carers’ issues before entering Parliament. I also met her fellow shadow Minister for Health, Diana Johnson MP who has supported local carers and carers’ organisations.
The appointments of Burstow and Keeley are positive but this will not mean that all the policy changes carers need will happen instantly – or at all. But, I do believe we have two people who regularly meet, listen to and understand carers. The election is passed, new ministers are appointed and the waiting must end – it’s time for change.
Watching the Leaders’ Debate on Sky News last night, the needs of carers again featured strongly – as well as issues which impact on carers’ lives like pensions which obviously effect the financial well being of older carers.
And again respite breaks were discussed. We’re all aware that having a break from caring is one of the key needs expressed by Scotland’s unpaid carers. Indeed it is a key recommendation in Care 21.
As a carer myself, I appreciate the need to ‘get away’ from caring – that might mean having a couple of hours of ‘me time’ with a friend, being at the hairdressers – it doesn’t always mean having a week away – or indeed the person you care for having time away from the home environment.
A short break can be so many things – something which I think political parties have missed in the ongoing debate around carers as we move towards this exciting General Election.
There is still a real need – and gap – in terms of social services and other key professionals involving carers in planning services for those they care for. For carers, a Carers’ Assessment does not always lead to them getting the support they need, at the time they need it – and that includes having access to a short break. A break can range from simply being able to leave the house to do things which others take for granted, right through to a full holiday.
The needs of unpaid carers are featuring in this election – and leaders are listening. We welcome developments such as the commitment by the Liberal Democrats to give a week of respite to those who care for 50 hours or more per week.
But my plea to Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, David Cameron – and Alex Salmond – is please listen harder. Work with The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, with the network of Carers’ Centres and organisations such as Shared Care Scotland to create and develop new and responsive opportunities to have a break from caring – with carers as equal partners in this process.
And above all, please keep asking questions of your local candidates – find out where they stand on these issues. The voice of carers needs to be loud and clear.
The Hugo Young Lecture is not Cameron’s natural territory by any means – and he joked it was probably a good thing he is too young to be included in Young’s acerbic journals.
But Dave had done his homework and it seems like he judged his audience pretty well.
Here’s The Trust’s official comment from our Director of Policy and Communications, Alex Fox:
“Big society” is a clever left-friendly spin on “small government”. The Conservatives’ aim to build “civil society” chimes with the current government’s agenda for building “community capacity”.
But even in the most optimistic assessments of how society and communities can be strengthened, the biggest single contribution made to this country’s infrastructure will continue to be the millions of hours of unpaid care and support provided to older and disabled people by their families and friends.
Perhaps we need a “big families” agenda that ensures that the state supports, rather than distorts, family relationships. We certainly cannot afford to keep ignoring ordinary people whose caring roles too often collapse due to poverty, isolation and stress.
Back on Cameron’s home turf they had their own view of how the speech went.