Paul Burstow writes: Have Your Say on Care and Support

A fortnight ago I wrote about how the Care and Support White paper and draft Bill signalled the biggest overhaul of social care in over 60 years.

The media storm triggered by that announcement inevitably focused on a single issue – namely who pays for care.

And while of course that issue is very important (and is something I care deeply about), it doesn’t address the urgent problem of fixing our broken system of social care.

Over my fifteen years in Parliament and in my years before that as a councillor I have fought and campaigned to protect the rights of the elderly, the disabled and those most in need of our care and support. The White Paper and draft Bill build on those years of campaigning as a Liberal Democrat, and now as a Lib Dem minister. They are an articulation of a Liberal vision, and I believe they are an articulation of our party values.

So many of the stories we read about care are about dignity and compassion, or the lack of them, of poor quality and little choice.  It is how safe and how good the care their loved ones receive that matter most and worries people most.

We know that not all care is good. This is why we’ll be improving the information on offer so that people can plan better for their future, and we’ll be putting people in control of their own budget so that they are helped to choose care that is good quality and that meets their needs.

Those who work in the care profession, and the quality of their relationships with people, are key if we want people to have positive experiences of care. We are therefore bringing new people into the profession by doubling the number of care apprenticeships to 100,000 by 2017.

People want peace of mind that they or their loved ones will be treated with dignity and respect.  That has been at the forefront of my thinking as I have worked on these reforms.

With the inevitable disappointment that the Government has not reach a final decision on funding reform, the White Paper and draft Bill have been welcomed by carers, social care users and the sector as being ‘innovative’ and ‘truly visionary’. As Age UK put it, they have: ‘the potential to significantly improve the quality of care available…helping to create a system that is fairer and more straightforward’.

Now we’ve all got to work together as Liberal Democrats to make sure all that potential is turned into a reality.  At the recent Social Liberal Forum I was asked how members and activists could pitch in to help – and you can do this by commenting on the draft Bill.

This is the first time the Department of Health has invited online comments from the public on a Bill, so it is a perfect chance for Lib Dems to have their say on one of the most important issues of our generation.

* Paul Burstow is Liberal Democrat candidate for Sutton and Cheam and was the MP until the dissolution of Parliament on 30th March.

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2 Comments

  • Peter Hayes 24th Jul '12 - 6:02pm

    Let me give examples from 2 generations of family.
    1) My parents in the 1950s moved back to my fathers family home to look after my grandparents. His brothers were happy to look after my grandparents for holidays but were on the doorstep to return them when we got back. At least one daughter in law said we only moved in for the inheritance, which was actually split equally. My maternal grandfather was given very good support by a different local authority and the family were very happy with the nurses.
    2) My parents sold their home for a 6 figure number to move into a charity home. Dad later needed Alzheimer’s care so had to move to a different home. We lived 120 miles away, 4 hours return trip, but were more than happy with the homes. Then Dad died and a year later Mum was in hospital for several months. At the end we were called for a ‘discharge meeting’ which was nothing more than move her out of NHS care into private nursing care as she had enough to pay for a few months. She died whilst we were researching alternative homes, which could not include her existing home.

    What would the current generation prefer, to move in to support your parents as my parents did, or accept that your choice means your inheritance will be taken away or support will be paid from your and others taxation. It’s a tough choice. I’d add my parents care homes were charitable, the private ones my father was put into whilst waiting for the charity home were appalling, sit in front of the TV and get changed if wet and smelly no stimulus at all. The best support person was a Polish girl in my mum’s home, her English improved dramatically with support from Mum and others and now she is one of the 3 senior carers managing a shift of lots of carers.

    There needs to be a lot of though about suppliers, checks on standards and family expectations not just costs.

  • Richard Dean 26th Jul '12 - 12:46pm

    Clicking on the link to the DoH website produces a Page Not Found error. The link should be http://careandsupportbill.dh.gov.uk/home/

    My comments are, first, that 100,000 new apprenticeships is just a first step, maybe only sufficient to provide current levels of inadeuate service to the increasingly old society. Second, I suggest you also need to increase the status of the caring profession. It’s actually a very hard task to truly care – rather than just go through motions. It’s quite different to tending a machine, which some seem able to do with their minds elsewhere.

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