We hear a lot these days about the injustice of people having to sell their homes to pay for their social care. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has mentioned it in his newspaper column. Yet, in a letter to the same newspaper, a Social Care Worker asks what about the ‘aged, sick and disabled people with no assets and houses to sell’ -what happens to them?
‘They have no choice but to accept poor, underfunded and overstretched care from the State,’ she writes. And despite the huge number affected, their voices aren’t heard, because they don’t know how to lobby MPs, and don’t have the energy and capacity to do so. She points out that ‘educated and articulate people with houses to sell at least have some choice.’ They know how to obtain private providers – and they know how to complain.
But the social care crisis is so severe that everyone is affected, whether or not they have houses to sell. Most social care these days is delivered in individuals’ private homes (it’s called Domiciliary Care.) Here, Age UK found that in 23 months (following the Chancellor’s announcement of a Green Paper in July 2017), 76,000 people died waiting for their care to begin. Among them were educated people, like a former dentist who died alone in his own home. A fairly small mention of the social care crisis on my FB page brought a flood of responses from relatives whose loved ones had been affected. The dentist’s daughter in law was distraught because at the time she’d been fully occupied with caring for her own mother who was recovering from surgery.
The system is in such a mess that it not only lacks funds, it lacks people prepared to work in it. At the last count, there were 100,000 vacancies. It’s understandable, because who wants to work in a sector that is not only underfunded, but unappreciated?
It’s when it comes to residential care that the divide is starker, and there does seem to be unfairness. Councils are reluctant to pay care home fees, and when they do it’s well below the cost of care, even for people who are extremely frail. Whereas elderly people with their own homes have the choice of selling them to fund their care – but the result is that they will be safe, they will be cared for. (And in our PFS homes, they will also be loved.) But people without their own homes have no choice, and have to accept the ‘overstretched care from the State’ the Social Care Worker describes.
Still there seems to be no sign of a Green Paper, or realistic funding for social care. Those of us who are able can email our MPs, and write to our local press. We can be a voice for those who have no voice. We can apply to work in the care sector, and if you live near one of our Pilgrim Homes you will be blessed if you do. And, perhaps the most powerful of all – we can pray.