By focussing the long awaited social care green paper on one group, older people, it will be impossible to create a truly sustainable system. The Government’s green paper should take into account the broad range of people who access social care and their differing needs in its search for a long term solution.
The issue of sustainable social care has been widely reported, whilst solutions for its future have also been widely debated; however, despite the Government’s promises, progress towards finding a solution for the sector has been dangerously slow.
I’m sure many in the sector will have been relieved to hear a date finally set for the long awaited social care green paper, now due next summer.
Although it is undeniably positive that the conversation about how these vital services will be funded and sustained will now pick up pace, it is also extremely worrying that rather than pursuing an approach that reflects the wide range of people that rely on social care. The Government has chosen to focus its attentions on older people, and in doing so seems to have snubbed the needs of disabled people.
In reality, only half of the money spent on social care in this country is spent on older people and, in fact, a third of the people accessing services in the sector are actually under the age of 65. This is why we’ve been asking the Government to ensure that it takes into account the broad range of people who use services and their differing needs in its search for a long term solution, rather than focusing on one just group.
For many disabled people, social care provides a vital lifeline that allows them to maintain their independence, dignity and connection to their community. Without these services, their quality of life would be greatly impacted. We think it is unfair for the Government to leave people who rely on these services out of its mainstream conversation about how to protect them.
If the Government’s priority is to provide a sustainable social care system, which is able to meet the needs of all those who need it, it simply doesn’t make sense to focus on only one section of the community accessing these services. The numbers just won’t add up and there is a real risk that we could sleepwalk into another social care crisis in the near future.
If the needs of disabled people of working age are not acknowledged alongside those of older people, it will be impossible to create a truly sustainable system; and if we want a social care service capable of providing high quality care to all, then it can only make sense to ensure that the needs of everyone accessing social care services are listened to and placed at the heart of our planning for its future.