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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

THE COST OF CARE

 Dr Lin Berwick MBE
Dr Lin Berwick MBE

The time bomb of the issue of the cost of social care is about to explode – and, what is more, this government has no realistic idea of how it is going to be funded.

It is as though they are just sticking their finger in the wind to see which way the wind is blowing. The wind is blowing quite fiercely for change, and it will happen, not simply because the government is aware that it must put more funding into social care, but because the minimum wage legislation has focused the real issue on the level of funding that social services will need to meet their obligations.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre, the think-tank for health and social care statistics state that some 654,930 people (2013/2014) receive care in their own homes, a further 228,000 are self funding, however these figures of a total of 883,000, pale into insignificance when one realises how the bill will need to increase to meet required levels of care.

Catastrophic

For example, someone requiring 24 hour full time live in care, who has previously engaged carers on a self employed basis, perhaps paying a much lower rate for night-time attendance,  now has an obligation to employ those carers on a PAYE basis, and therefore has to meet the new minimum wage for the whole 24 hour period. On this basis the weekly care bill would come to £1209.60 excluding national insurance contribution, holiday pay of four weeks, statutory sick pay or maternity leave.

The knock-on for social services and individual carers is catastrophic, because it is putting social care provision further and further out of reach, and we are heading on a collision course of momentous proportion.

It is highly unlikely that any one family could meet this kind of expenditure unless they were reasonably wealthy to start with.

Emotional tension

The true cost of all this is not just about financial expenditure, it is more to do with the emotional tension and pressure that this kind of issue puts a disabled person under. In the past there were many more local authority residential care establishments, now, sadly the vast majority have been sold off to comply with “care in the community”. This so-called care in the community is becoming non-existent.

What I wish to know is; what are Mr Cameron and Mr Crabb going to do about it. It is evident that more money must be found for Social Services up and down the country, to meet their obligations, and at the moment, no-one seems to have any idea where the extra funding is coming from.

Up to now all we have heard about is cuts, these cuts have jeopardised social care to the extent that for some people, they are receiving as little as half an hour a day, in reality, not enough time for that person to go the toilet and wash their hands. More and more, hours of care are being cut and the level of personal funding required is increasing to almost £20 an hour with VAT. Where is the humanity in all of this? People are much more than a feeding and toileting machine, they would wish to have some social interaction and socialisation, and really feel valued by those who care for them, rather than feeling that they are nothing more than a nuisance.

People cannot always do things at breakneck speed, if you are dealing with people who have disability or dementia; you have to go at their speed, not yours.

There are many personal issues that people are fearful of every day of their lives, what they need is a sense of  quietness, rather than constant anxiety about what is going to happen to them.

David Cameron, of all people, knows what it is like to be on the end of caring, his own son, Ivan was profoundly disabled, with Cerebral Palsy and epilepsy, and many other medical issues. He knows at first hand, the level of worry that people experience on a day to day basis, yet he sits back and only talks about cuts in services, when what is desperately needed is increase.

By Dr Lin Berwick MBE

[infobox title=’Dr Lin Berwick ‘]Dr Lin Berwick MBE is a qualified psychotherapeutic counsellor, homoeopath, a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists, a lecturer and writer on disability matters and a contributor to TV and radio programmes on related issues. In 1994 she was named by RADAR as one of their “People of the Year”. She was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for her services to people with disabilities in 2003. Lin is blind, has cerebral palsy and is a wheelchair user. She requires 24-hour care. She founded The Lin Berwick Trust in 1989 with her husband, Ralph Boyce, because of their personal frustration at the lack of suitable holiday accommodation for people with disabilities. Lin is President of the Trust and a member of the Board of Trustees -www.thelinberwicktrust.org.uk. Lin has written several books about her life including Undefeated and Inner Vision. Her latest book entitled God’s Rich Pattern was published in 2012.[/infobox]