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New 'vision' for social care

16 November 2010

Carers UK Chief Executive Imelda Redmond CBE has responded to the launch of the Government's vision for the future of the care and support system.

 

“There is much to welcome in this vision for social care. It is vital that reform delivers early, preventative support to families to promote the independence of older and disabled people and make sure that families are not pushed to breaking point by providing high levels of care without support.

For many years, families who care for ill or disabled loved-ones have called for a fundamental reshaping of the social care system to make it more reliable, better quality and more responsive to their needs.

However the Government’s plans to accelerate the shift towards ‘personalisation’ hold both risks and opportunities for families. More control of the support they receive makes a big difference to quality of life for disabled people and their families, as they can shape support around their own lives. But we have some concerns about speed at which the Government plans to shift from the current system of care services to ‘personal budgets’, which will largely be delivered through direct cash payments to service users.

Carers UK shares the vision of a new market for social care services where families are given their own budgets to buy the services and support that suits them. However, the Government is planning to shift from existing council-run services to this new model within two years. We are concerned that if this shift occurs too quickly, then traditional services like day centres will dry up, before a new market develops. It is vital that the ‘personalisation’ agenda in social care does not sweep away traditional services that are working well, as getting a ‘personal budget’ and managing your own care package may not be the answer for everyone.[1]

There is also no escaping the need for substantial new investment in the social care system to meet growing demand, and we look forward next year to the outcome of the new Commission on the Funding of Care and Support. This vision, and the Commission’s report, represent big opportunities to build a social care system fit for the 21st century. Yet we must not forget that families are struggling now and it is crucial that local councils do not undermine this long-term vision, by cutting existing support for older and disabled people and their families.”

[1] In Carers UK’s research shows that whilst 73% of carers found that direct payments were better at meeting their family’s needs, one in five found they had less free time because of the burden of administering the payments and care package.

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