Amongst the noise of Presidential visits, resigning Prime
Ministers and the ongoing drama of Brexit, there is one issue that has quietly
returned to the political agenda.
bill of BBC Panorama programmes has drawn public attention to the crisis in
care. Through special access to the social care teams at Somerset Council, the
BBC has shone a light on the older and disabled people, and their families, facing
a confusing social care system and struggling to cope without the right
support. Both programmes
have shown the impact of the devastating funding cuts to local authority social
care budgets. Across England local councils have faced over £7 billion worth of
cuts to adult social care since 2010. As a result, social workers,
commissioners and directors of adult social care are faced with dwindling
resources for packages of care which means impossible decisions about who can
get the support they need.
How Sense staff at a supported living service in Sheffield helped Martin to live a more independent life.
first met Martin after a referral from the local authority. Martin had been
living in a nursing home and staff were concerned that he was becoming
increasingly withdrawn and unwilling to interact with others. The home wasn’t
able to provide activities that Martin could participate in and there was a
general lack of routine which left him feeling anxious and unsettled.
Five-year-old Annie has been on a difficult journey that families of a child with complex disabilities will recognise. But in some ways, as her parents Ali and Michael acknowledge, she has been fortunate. They were able to get specialist help for her from Sense and this has made a huge difference to her life.
Sense wants all families with a child with complex disabilities to receive this level of support, and our new strategy – including the development of services and our campaigning work – aims to drive this forward.
Yesterday the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Amber Rudd, announced that the Department are looking to combine the assessment for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) that takes place under Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Universal Credit into one.
At Sense, we believe everyone with complex disabilities should be able to access good quality and person-centered health and social care services. An essential part of this is ensuring that health and care staff know how to support people with complex needs when they meet or care for them.
There are really simple steps that can make health and social care accessible, such as allowing more time for someone to understand what’s been said to them, or identifying that someone might have a learning disability or autism and considering how best to support them to feel safe and communicate.
It’s just over two weeks now since NHS England published the NHS Long Term Plan. Setting out the vision for the next 10 years of the NHS, the plan was heralded by many as the solution to the challenges facing the NHS. As the dust is now settling following the launch of the plan it’s time to review it in more detail; what does it actually mean for disabled people with complex needs and their families?
There has been a lot of attention on Parliament due to Brexit in the past few months, but little focus has been given to what is a hugely significant piece of legislation that has been making its way through parliamentary processes.
The Mental Capacity Act (Amendment) Bill was first published in July 2018 and has the potential to significantly impact on the lives of disabled people, and organisations who provide care and support. To tell the story of the Bill and the impact it could have it’s probably easier to start at the beginning of the journey.
Since 2013, when Universal Credit was introduced, we have been working to understand exactly what this new type of benefit will mean for disabled people. Universal Credit replaces six means-tested benefits which are also often referred to as legacy benefits, We have been campaigning alongside other organisations to ensure that Universal Credit does not negatively affect disabled people, who represent around 36% of those who are likely to be transitioned across. Some of our concerns are that many disabled people will be financially worse off under Universal Credit, have difficulty navigating and accessing the application process, and the disruptive 5 week wait before Universal Credit is paid.
But over the weekend it was reported that there could be changes to the planned roll-out of Universal Credit across the country. If this weekend’s reports prove to be true, this could mark a significant shift in government’s position and narrative on Universal Credit.
Instead of seeking Parliamentary approval to mass migrate everyone still claiming legacy benefits across to Universal Credit before 2023, it is rumoured that the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (Amber Rudd) would only seek approval for a test of 10,000 people to be transferred across. After that, it is said that she will review the trial, make any necessary changes, before going on to seek Parliamentary approval to move the remainder of claimants across. However, we are still yet to hear this officially confirmed by her Department.
In 2018 we all became worried about loneliness. It is not a new problem. But last year and thanks to the Jo Cox Commission, the Minister for Loneliness, the Campaign to End Loneliness, the disability sector working together, and countless other organisations, it has become an urgent one. We also have our first Loneliness Strategy. 2019 is the year in which we seek to tackle the loneliness epidemic.
There are 9 million of people in the UK who are lonely. We have an increased understanding that loneliness is bad for individuals and communities. We know that the feeling of being by oneself with no one to rely on, to talk to, or to share life with causes pain.
Why is that? On the one hand, we have a desire for company. We want to be part of a group. We know social life is a benign power. But sometimes it feels we were put on this world to remain separate from one another, rather than come together as a community. Instead we nourish human suffering and loneliness.