Author Archives: Gillian Douglass

Social Care: It’s Not All About the Money

Social care has reared it’s head again on the national stage and some money has been proposed starting in 2023 with the new Health and Care Bill which just had its first reading.

Firstly, what IS social care? Well, it can be anything. Some people call it tasks of daily living and, while somewhat banal, it is also extremely important. Let’s face it, the engineers and retailers have made life easy for us. We now have prepared meals to go into the oven, washing machines, dishwashers, and some of us even have robotic vacuum cleaners.

Who is eligible? Anybody who has a disability which prevents them from getting washed and dressed, shopping, putting a meal in and out of the oven, washing their clothes, linens and towels, managing their money or socializing. This could be a long-term condition, such as MS or dementia, or a short-term condition, such as a broken arm.

The Money Currently, people with savings of under £23,500 are eligible for support from the local authority. They may either take this in the form of a direct payment or the council can organise social care on their behalf.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments

Has Liberal Democracy failed us?

Listening to a BBC Radio 4 broadcast recently, somebody commented that liberal democracy has failed us. The context wasn’t clear. I thought about it for a while and have decided to put pen to paper.

In the context of Brexit, there could be an argument that liberal democracy has failed us, but I wonder if this idea is purely superficial. We are now experiencing shortages of workers in delivery, waste disposal, health and social care, food picking, etc. I have been personally impacted by the fact that some car parts are hard to come by and have been waiting for my car to be repaired since July 2nd. We knew all this would happen before we voted in 2016. We were told that there would be short-term (up to 10 years) of disruption before all would become well again. But how did we know?

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When will the crisis in Social Care be resolved?

The problems in social care during the pandemic was more than just a lack of PPE to care homes. Firstly, many more people receive care in their homes than in care homes, and secondly, the chronic shortage of funds for both adult and children’s social care is an increasing problem.

Overall, we should have intensive care beds in hospitals for 25,000 people to accommodate normal winter pressures. In pandemic circumstances, I’m not sure of the number, but I do know that, in the last year, people were repeatedly not taken to hospital despite the fact that they were very sick. A substantial number of the 126,000 people who died, died at home with little or no medical intervention.

There are sometimes not enough beds in care homes either and, while this has generally been left to the private sector, it a good idea to have some recuperation beds which are under the control of the NHS or local councils.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 103 Comments

Pursuing fairness – We need change both at the top and at the bottom

The United Kingdom is a funny place.

We’ve got a royal family which controls the Crown Estates, a huge area of land, and contributes to society in a variety of ways, while getting most of its funding through the taxation system.

We’ve got a House of Commons representing, as you would expect, the general public, and a House of Lords, which is politically appointed, scrutinising our laws.

We pay people benefits to people on the basis that they are disabled rather than the fact that they may need the money and we make people who don’t meet the threshold of disability try to live on next to nothing if they can’t find a job.

We let people in charities and businesses pay themselves six figure salaries and little or no taxes, and we put sometimes quite unreasonable expectations on the self-employed.

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Have the Government handled the Covid-19 pandemic well?

It’s a difficult question, and the Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge for governments worldwide. The fact is that, while the government has done well in terms of an initial lockdown, there have been serious failings. It will be interesting to read the review when it’s published.

Firstly, the government, with SAGE’s advice, took the position that they did not want to lockdown too early as people may not accept it. This was obviously an error as thousands of lives could have been saved by locking down a week earlier. Later in the year, the government has again delayed a lockdown, going against the advice of SAGE who called for a short, sharp circuit breaker. I assume that they wanted to prove to their supporters that it was entirely necessary, but, again, it will have led to unnecessary deaths.

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Parental Responsibility and Parental Support

If you’ve never had a baby, it may be difficult to imagine what it is like. There is much preparation beforehand with scans and regular check-ups. There are also classes which focus predominantly on birth giving as well as baby showers where friends and relatives give you tiny clothing and other gifts.

Unless you undertake a lot of reading or have experience with child-rearing, you are pretty much on your own after giving birth. Amazingly, the hospital staff just let you walk away with some tips and coupons and an entirely helpless small human being in a carrier. That’s not to say that the National Health Service (NHS) staff are in any way responsible for the system. The Gynaecologists, Obstetricians, nurses, midwives and health visitors all do a wonderful job, but many of them are stretched to breaking point with more women, children and families on their caseload and less resources. While women used to get regular home visits, these have been reduced as pressures on the NHS have increased. Then there’s the issue of premature babies, babies with health issues, mothers who experience difficulty bonding or breastfeeding and fathers who feel helpless or not engaged at all. As you can imagine, in addition to joy, there is often a lot of heartbreak and anxiety.

There is also a duty in law called parental responsibility. You have it when you are a parent whether you like it or not. With approximately 30% of pregnancies in the UK unplanned, it is paramount that parents receive the best support they can get. As the parent of two adults, I can attest that being a parent is not a bed of roses. I was happily in a good relationship when I became pregnant, and we both looked forward to being parents. However, both of my children were anaemic when they were born, and the older one had colic – a condition believed to be the result of an immature digestive system. Further, I had problems with breastfeeding. I don’t think that I’m alone in feeling that I did scramble around to get the information and support that I needed to be able to look after my children well and, without the support of my partner, I would have been in trouble.

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Beyond the European Union: Inequality in British society is the biggest Issue that we face

I am a solid “Remainer,” believing that the United Kingdom is better off inside the European Union, particularly in terms of the economy but also because of the standards which the EU upholds in terms of consumer protection, human rights, commitment to protecting the environment and assuring our security.

In fact, I would like to push towards a more equal society in Britain – an idea which seems to escape the majority of the right wing and, unbelievably, some of the extreme left wing as well.

Although I am not an economist, it appears fairly obvious to me that the increasing gap …

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 35 Comments

Why is it so difficult for politicians to understand social care?

Social care is any extra help that a person needs with day to day living. It might be getting out and about, maintaining relationships, preparing meals, washing, paying bills or cleaning and maintaining the house. Anything that does not require really specialised knowlege but is, nonetheless, essential for a person’s wellbeing. Infants, small children and those with disabilities often need social care. Most adults can manage well into their old age by hiring someone like a gardener or a cleaner except if they have a medical condition such arthritis, Parkinson’s or dementia. Even then, most people can pay for their care themselves or claim attendance allowance to help them to do so. The problem comes in when their care reaches such a level that this benefit does not cover the cost of their care and they have depleted their savings. Currently, the local authority will help towards the cost of a person’s care – or even organise the care – if the person’s savings have depleted to £23,250. This does not currently include the value of the person’s house if they own it. If the person needs to go into a care home or other form of residential care, they are currently expected to fund their own care by selling their house and will only be eligible for support from the local authority when their savings have depleted to £23,250.

The problem that Theresa May has had is that the conservatives have tried to level the playing field by saying that the value of the person’s home should taken into consideration regardless of whether they have care in the home or in a residential setting. This means that a person with a home worth £500,000 will need to pay for their care for many years before receiving any public assistance. To top it off, the Tories did not agree to the £72,000 cap proposed by the Liberal Democrats in government so Theresa May was left holding the bag as many people realised that their life savings may go on care and that they may only be able to pass on minimal savings to their children and grandchildren. On BBC Question Time last night, Mrs. May committed that people would “not have to sell their homes in their lifetime” but this is rather a big promise and one which I, for one, do not believe she can keep.

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Liberal Democrats: born or conceived?

 

I recently attended a Southeastern Lib Dem conference where one of our members stated that Liberal Democrats are “born.” He further stated that Liberal Democrats do not choose the party, their values determine whether they are party members or not.

I assume that he was supporting our leader, Tim Farron’s, invitation for all of those who have liberal values in their hearts to join the party. While I, too, support Tim’s invitation and believe that there are many U.K. citizens and those living in this country who have and stand up for liberal values, I cannot entirely do away with freedom of choice. Where does this lead us? Does it mean that only those whose parents were Liberal Democrats can be Liberal Democrats? That would be a dubious strategy for increasing our numbers.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 7 Comments
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