Thousands struggling to eat, wash or leave their homes
- Published on Thursday, 17 January 2013 10:07
- Posted by Scott Buckler
New research published today exposes the true scale of the Government's social care crisis for disabled people, which has left thousands without access to basic care to help them eat, wash properly and leave their homes
The report The Other Care Crisis is published by Scope, Mencap, The National Autistic Society, Sense and Leonard Cheshire Disability. The leading disability charities are concerned that the debate about social care reform has focused on the needs of an ageing population and sidelined the thousands of disabled people under the age of 65 who rely on care in everyday life.
One third of the people who receive on social care are disabled, yet Emma from Cambridge says: "Not getting the support I need has meant my life is on hold. I have no routine, I feel socially isolated, lonely and of no value to society. I'm only 24; I feel 84."
The charities are urging the Government to put disabled people at the heart of reforms by setting eligibility for state-funded social care at 'moderate needs' (i) in order to guarantee the most vulnerable people in society basic support in their daily lives.
Evidence of social care crisis
The report, the first comprehensive analysis of how the social care crisis affects disabled people, brings together three new pieces of evidence:
- An extensive study of 600 disabled people's experiences of the social care system shows almost 40% of disabled people currently receiving some social care support are not having basic needs met, including eating properly, washing, dressing or getting out the house.
- Leading academics at the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) within the London School of Economics, the same team commissioned by Andrew Dilnot in his review of social care funding (iii), reveal in a new technical report, (iv) that up to 105,000 disabled people are at risk of not receiving any basic support for their day-to-day lives as a direct result of the Government's proposals for social care reform
- The team at LSE also exposes £1.2 billion funding gap when it comes to social care support for disabled people under the age of 65.
The combination of these findings presents clear and compelling evidence of a social care system that is failing disabled people under the age of 65, at a time when Government reforms through the Care and Support Bill, are being scrutinised by a Joint Committee of MPs and Peers.
Cuts to social care budgets
The charities warn of a social care system on the brink of collapse as a result of years of chronic underfunding by successive Governments. They argue that councils are in an impossible position of wanting to provide more support to the growing numbers of disabled people who require care, at a time when they are facing unprecedented cuts to their budgets.
Of the 600 disabled people the charities spoke to:
- Over a third (36%) said they were unable to eat, wash or leave their homes due to underfunding
- 47% of disabled people said a lack of social care support prevented them from taking part in community life
- 34% said it prevented them from working or volunteering
- 53% of disabled people reporting significant anxiety, isolation and deteriorating mental health as a result of not getting the care they needed.
In the Draft Care and Support Bill, the Government committed to introducing a new national eligibility threshold to end the postcode lottery when it comes to determining who qualifies for state-funded social care support, a move supported by the charities. However, as a result, it is widely anticipated that the Government will drastically limit the number of disabled people who will continue to receive this support by setting eligibility at 'substantial needs' (v).
The analysis undertaken by the team at LSE and commissioned by Scope (vi), reveals for the first time:
- 105,000 disabled people are at risk of not getting the basic support they need to help them eat, get washed and leave their homes if Government sets eligibility at 'substantial needs'. This figure comprises:
- 36,000 disabled people who have 'moderate needs' and currently receive some care may lose this basic support.
- An additional 69,000 disabled people with 'moderate needs' who are not receiving any basic support, meaning they are likely to struggle with day-to-day life.
The charities urge the Government to address the £1.2 billion funding gap, the equivalent of 0.17% of public spending (vii), into social care support for disabled people and argue that this is the price the Government must pay to guarantee basic support for the most vulnerable people in our society and prevent this crisis from escalating even further (viii).
Take action to free the 100,000 disabled people imprisoned in their own homes
Richard Hawkes, Chief Executive of disability charity Scope, said: "This is shocking evidence of a system that has failed disabled people, effectively condemning them to a life without basic dignity and invisible to society. Times are tough for everyone but being able to eat, wash and leave your home is not a luxury. It is absolutely appalling that this is the sad reality of life for thousands of Britain's disabled people. Enough is enough. We cannot bury our heads in the sand any longer and ignore the desperate situation disabled people find themselves in without help in their day-to-day lives. We need an urgent and long-term solution from the Government to lift disabled people out of a life without basic support for the daily tasks that everyone else takes for granted."
Mark Goldring, Chief Executive of learning disability charity Mencap said: "Imagine not being able to eat, wash or dress yourself. It is unforgiveable that there are disabled people in England today who aren't given support for these basic needs, because the social care system has failed them. Because of proposed new rules on eligibility, the Government's planned social care reform may well result in 100,000 disabled people not having their basic needs met. The Government cannot ignore this damning evidence and must commit to long-term funding which will support disabled people to live a life with dignity."
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of The National Autistic Society (NAS) added: "For less than 0.2% of public expenditure the Government could ensure that over 100,000 vulnerable people have access to support that meets their basic human needs. Failing to provide this care for adults with autism can have a profound and sometimes devastating effect, resulting in people developing more serious mental health problems that will ultimately be at greater cost to the public purse. The social and communication difficulties that people with autism face are often misunderstood by social care assessors, leading to people with the condition being deemed ineligible for support. It is therefore vital that the Government also ensures that all assessors are trained in autism. Where this does not happen there is a real danger that people will miss out on essential care and consequently find themselves living lives of hardship and misery."
"Supporting disabled people with moderate needs can prevent those needs from escalating. It may sound like we are calling for a lot of money, but if it helps keep people in work and out of hospital it could make savings to the public purse over time," said Sir Paul Ennals, Director of Strategy for deafblind charity Sense.
Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, added: "There should be no 'take it or leave it' mentality in providing care for disabled people. When money is tight, it should go to those who need it most. No-one in this day and age should be left without the help they need to take a bath or dress in the morning, and live an everyday life just like everyone else. This new research reveals for the first time how many people are living in the care 'gap' and it is a disgrace. No Government and no right-thinking person should allow this to continue in their street, their town, their country."