The Care Quality Commission state that the social care market is at a ‘tipping point’. 28 per cent of care homes are currently at risk of financial failure; savage cuts to care are not only undermining service users and carers, but the market itself.
‘Large-scale provider failures is no longer of question of ‘if ’ but ‘when’ and such a failure would jeopardise continuity of the care on which … people depend’ (The Kings’ Fund, 2016).
The crisis in the care system underlines the failure of David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’. The very sectors vital to the Big Society, the private and voluntary sectors, are being undermined by ravage spending cuts. The Big Society ideal
of an enabled, independent older citizen, supported at home by family and community, turning to the state for care only in extremis, requires a vibrant voluntary and community sector, family members able and willing to play that role, and health and care services fully geared up to support people in their homes. We have not found evidence of these things being in place (The Kings’ Fund, 2016 p.73).
Indeed Age UK suggest that 696,500 older people do not receive any of help that they need to conduct everyday activities.
On the 9th of January Theresa May began to outline the ‘the Shared Society’ in a speech which, rhetorically, emphasised tackling exclusion and socio-economic inequalities that she described as ‘burning injustices’. ‘The shared society is one that doesn’t just value individual rights but focuses rather more on the responsibilities we have to one another’.
This rhetoric is welcome, but families and communities need more than rhetoric, they need funding and reform.
Thus far the Prime Minister has demonstrated little willingness to address the issue of funding. Indeed the insufficient Council Tax Precept only perpetuates the inequities in service and social outcomes that the Prime Minister supposedly abhors.
Mrs May should heed the words of Nuffield Trust, The Health Foundation and The Kings’ Fund. The current model of care funding and provision is ‘imposing significant human and financial costs on [service users], their families and carers … the state of services is ‘critical’ and the need for ‘fundamental reform … [is] obvious’.
There are hundreds of thousands of Briton’s struggling, Mrs May, pained and stressed without the dignity and wellbeing they deserve. They need a care service, not lip service. End the rhetoric. Do something.