Two years ago my Mum died in a local care home after a struggle with dementia. So I know how important and how hard it is to get the care frail elderly people need. I appreciate the important work that the Alzheimer’s Society does on behalf of people living with dementia and I therefore support their campaign to improve social care. It has supported awareness raising of dementia across England and is leading investment in research to improve care, advance prevention and move closer to achieving the goal of a world without dementia. As we work to find a cure, I believe we should place an equal emphasis on the care provided to people living with dementia and the support provided to their families and carers. Improving the quality of social care is a vital part of providing dignity in older age and support for people living with a long-term condition.
Since 2010 the Government has cut £3 billion from councils for social care. The Chancellor’s Autumn Budget offered no additional funding to support social care services. Indeed, it made no reference to social care whatsoever, and in December the Government confirmed that it will not implement its plans for a cap on care costs in 2020. Furthermore, the Government has delayed its green paper on social care until summer 2018, despite promises that this would be published by the end of 2017.
At a time when the social care system is coming under increasing pressure, I believe this Government is failing to take the immediate action required to find a long-term and sustainable solution to social care funding. I share the concerns of the Alzheimer’s Society that the Government is neglecting social care and that people with dementia and their families will rightfully feel betrayed and abandoned as a result. At the General Election, I stood on a manifesto that promised an extra £8 billion to tackle the funding gap in social care, including an additional £1 billion for the first year. This would have extended publicly funded social care to thousands of people in highest need.
With the Care Quality Commission describing the future quality of care as “precarious”, the Government should consult with carers and experts on how it can move from the current broken system of care to a sustainable service for older people on the principle of shared risk, so that no-one faces catastrophic care costs as they do now.