In the last 12 months there has been a lot of talk about transforming social care and working more closely with health care. Social care is still on the cliff edge, with local authorities trying to meet the needs of their residents who require social care support. Each year, council tax is increased to help meet the growing need for social care.
If we look back to the general election, the government didn’t once mention young people or those below retirement age receiving social care support. It was focused on the very old and the debate of being forced to sell their homes in order to pay for support costs in later life. In the UK there is a great number of people who are not receiving adult social care support and who are being isolated from their communities, limiting the possibilities to create connections with new friends and neighbours. We should also recognise that those people who do have good quality support are still somewhat isolated from their communities. Through no fault of their own, and due to local authorities’ shoe-string resources, they cannot fully meet the support needs of all individuals.
As we build the social care of the future, national government must recognise the full value of individuals being truly in control of their own support. I also urge the government to fully recognise the role of a personal assistant in health and social care. It isn’t just a stop gap job, but to be recognised as a career, and the salary should reflect as much. Creeping above minimum wage does not do the career justice and undervalues the quality of life a good PA can support someone to have. The salary should include pay rises for recognition of good work and length of service, increased pay on bank holidays, and not be determined by which local authority the funding comes from. The level of support needs and training might also be considered.
We must be more creative with how we support individuals to access a personal budget. The time has come to be more creative with limited recourses if we are to make the future of social care really work. We don’t want to be part of system; we just want our support to work for our lives.
Local authorities and national government must value not-for-profit organisations which support individuals to live an interdependent life, such as Your Support Matters.
My final thoughts: future social care must be creative and diverse so people like me, who require extra support to live a good quality of life, can continue to make a valuable contribution to society.