So it’s settled: the election is over and the deal is done. We’ve seen it all!
But, a sad, sombre fact remains that out of sight, away from the cameras, the lights and all the pizzaz during this election process 81 older people a day (3 an hour) have died waiting for social care. Around 78,000 older people in England have died since a Green paper was promised in July 2017. (Age UK research.)
It’s not for want of lobbying. Many Groups, including cross-party MPs and the Economics Committee of the House of Lords have done their best to push for a funding plan to end the crisis. Among them is the National Care Forum (NCF) the body for not-for-profit organisations (including PFS) in the care and support sector.
NCF executive director Vic Raynor asks what will it take now to kick-start the process. In a blog this month she wrote that having tried everything else, “the advent of a new Prime Minister (PM) might be just the moment for some ghostly intervention!”
She imagines a Scrooge like visitation, where the first apparition takes the PM to a moribund past of discussions, committees and the Care Act 2014 ending with rows of people sitting on benches facing each other, doing nothing.
The phantom guide to the present has a more urgent feel. He whizzes the PM from home to home, ‘ seeing people struggling to cope, carers pressed beyond measure, workers racing from home to home with barely time to connect with people, MP’s surgeries pressed full of people unable to access services because of escalating eligibility, people isolated and alone, adults unable to live independent and fulfilling lives. Alongside this sits a revered star, the NHS, where behind the glitter of the shining name, the PM is shown with unerring insight that the challenges for people, workforce and funders are a mirror of their symbiotic social care twin.’
At this point in his story we know that Scrooge ‘got it’, and changed everything in his world. But our PM? ‘Being well versed in literature, the PM implores the phantasmagorical guide to rush forward, and hand them over to the future – desperate now to see how their efforts in charge have played out. With remarkable likeness to the Dickensian plot, the spectre of the future takes the PM toward a grave yard. The tombs lie deserted, the graves unkempt. Peering through the gloom, the epitaphs are clear. ..
‘Wrenched from this night of spectral insight – the PM looks in the mirror. The stories have been told, the impact on lives writ large before them. The tipping point has come and the fulcrum lies with them.’
The fulcrum does indeed lie with them, but we have a unique opportunity to leverage it. Archimedes said, ‘Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.’ We now have a secure government with a majority that means it can get things done. We can be the lever that tips it in the right direction – each one of us adding a weight that eventually moves it. We can talk, email and write to our Members of Parliament until a social care plan is produced that works – if Japan and other countries can do it, why can’t we?
(A report by the BBC last month giving one of the clearest pictures of the situation. See here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-50377846.)