For a decade, I’ve been writing about the crisis in English social care. So it came as little surprise last year when a close member of my own family became yet another victim of our failing system of care and support.
He had reached his late-80s and, like so many others, he had significant support needs which his council believed were insufficient to warrant a formal assessment for social care. Almost a dozen professionals were responsible for some aspect of his care and support, but no one took responsibility for coordinating it all. And it was only a series of A&E admissions – and his children’s insistence that he could not be safely discharged to his sheltered flat – that led to social services finally assessing his needs and agreeing to fund a place in a care home.
It is just one of many thousands of stories lying behind the grim statistics for delayed discharge, emergency readmission and the plummeting number of older people receiving care in their home. Anecdotes like this have in fact become so routine that policy makers and service providers almost seem to take for granted these tales of failure.
A new vision of care
With another round of social care reform now in the pipeline, we will know that we have the care system that older people deserve only when cases like this are the rarest of exceptions. England needs a new settlement on care to ensure that frail and disabled older people receive broad-ranging and well-integrated support as soon as their needs arise. For this is the only way to sustain independence and quality of life; and to prevent or minimise problems getting worse.
SOURCE: Harrop, Andrew. “Helping People Before They Reach Crisis Point.” Fabian Society, 12 September 2017.
Produced by the librarians at the Brotherhood of St Laurence in Melbourne, Australia