Thank you to The King’s Fund and more to ADASS, which I don’t say very often, especially to ADASS, but now I welcome saying it.
I have been, in my own way been campaigning for more to be done for social care for going on 10 years and more, because in 1984 I joined a family and became a husband to a single mother of 3 children, one who had multiple physical and learning disabilities, a sensory disability and later we found also autism. I came in not knowing anything about disabilities and especially learning disability and then autism, so I had to learn and learn fast if I was to be of help and not a hindrance.
We didn’t trouble the authorities much, both health and social care, where on reflection we should have done. My wife and myself had some degree of youth and strength and good health, so we decided we could manage, but in time my wife’s health started to deteriorate so we asked for a little help and we were granted 6 hours of care per day during Monday to Friday and received a Direct Payment from our Local Authority, (LA), to manage the costs. But as time went on my wife’s health deteriorated much further and mine also started to deteriorate, so over the years the amount of care provided increased in small amounts until 2016 when we were eventually granted 24/7 care and during this time the Direct Payments were increased to cover the increased costs.
When the original care was granted we did this by employing our own carers, funded through Direct Payments and the rate of pay was recommended by our LA and when the Real Living Wage was introduced by the Living Wage Foundation in 2011/12 it was £7.20, while we were paying that rate as recommended by our LA in 2010/11.
Then came the Tory austerity cuts, so our rate of £7.20 remained unchanged for a number of years, but not only because of the austerity cuts, but in 2010/11 that was the year our LA stopped recommending a rate, but never advised anyone it was going to do so. So there I was waiting for the recommendation not knowing it was not to come and believed it was because of the austerity cuts.
It was not until some 3/4 years later that I heard our LA was going to start paying their staff the Real Living Wage, so I emailed the Leader of the Council, at first no reply, but then I sent a stronger worded email and it was referred to a Council Officer, who eventually, in so many words, ‘what we paid our carers was nothing to do with them’, even though I could only pay what was agreed in the Direct Payment.
I then made a Formal Complaint and eventually after many months in fact over a year was allowed to increase the payment to £8.00 per hour and then in 2019 to £9.00 per hour.
In 2020/2021 not one person employing their own carers and paying through Direct Payments in my LA received an increase for the carers, although carers who were employed by care providers did, even if to pay this the Direct Payment had to be increased. So no equality for paid carers as my LA allowed increases in Direct Payments for paid carers employed through care providers but not paid carers employed directly through families. Surely a case of discrimination, not that I begrudged the care workers with care providers, but so unfair on my own employees and those in other families. It came that when I started employing carers they were being paid more than carers from care providers, but by this time care workers through care providers were being paid more than those I employed and as I had carers who I employed and also had many from a care provider, the later were earning more for doing the same work.
In 2021/2022 I joined a LA Working Group looking at pay for carers paid for by families and after some lengthy discussions and some few months it was agreed that pay rates would be increased by 5.66% for carers paid by families and by 4.99% for carers paid by care providers, so for the first time, or was it coincidence that both the carers paid by me and those paid by the carer provider were being paid at the same rate.
But not all, for it was agreed that each year the pay rates for carers paid by families would be increased each year.
During this time my wife succumbed to her health problems and died in September 2020 and this was then followed by my daughter in October 2022, but I am still involved with the LA in various discussions and have been advised that they have kept their word and the yearly increases are continuing.
I gave the aforementioned as some history to some of my involvements, but I do have many, even though I have now no family within social care, with the possible exception of myself due to my own declining health, but mine is minimal on my LA resources, currently only a loan of a shower chair.
So my involvements in social care and in many areas of health have been extensive and varied and I have deep worries for the future, not mine, for my future will now be short, but for others around and not just within my own LA, but every LA within the UK.
For once a government has to look and take decisive action about social care for otherwise it will not survive. But it has to survive for the continuation of our much desired and required NHS, for the NHS can’t survive without social care, as social care can’t survive without the NHS.
They are really that inseparable and without either one we are all in great peril. The Government funds the NHS to some degree but not Social Care.
This King’s Fund report is a great start, but should have come many years ago, but now we have to have a listening government and then for it to act accordingly, but unfortunately I have never seen one in my near 74 years. One is desperately required, but I don’t see one coming no matter what the colour of the next government, for no party is mentioning social care.
It is said there is no money, but the government found it for King Charles III Coronation and yes, there will be rewards to the economy, well it certainly needs it. Funding needs to be found for social care and it is required now, for 2025 could be well too late. I also agree that the cost of living needs to be controlled, but at what cost, is it lives for no funding for social care?
Where is the governments ‘Duty of Care’ and all the consequences of safeguarding alerts?