As part of National Care Home Week. I recently met some of the incredible staff and residents at Nightingale House in Balham to see first-hand the fantastic work being done in the local community.
The Government recently released their “Plan for Health and Social Care”, in which they pledge to help the NHS recover from the coronavirus pandemic and reform the adult social care system - funded by a 1.25% increase in National Insurance payments.
Low-paid families will now be hit with a double whammy of a Universal Credit cut and a hike in tax. In fact, some key workers will end up more than £1,000 worse off.
While I have long called for investment in social care, this is not the appropriate way to fund it. Once again the Tories have put the very wealthiest above working people.
I am proud to have voted against this National Insurance increase, which will be a damaging blow to so many working people in Tooting.
Even before the pandemic hit, the case for investing in this kind of support was clear. Coronavirus has exacerbated the existing crisis in mental health. Many NHS and social care staff have been scared of going to work, and they have lost patients and colleagues. It has been heartbreaking to witness the toll this virus has taken on staff mental health.
Current support is not good enough, and without a tailored, fast-tracked service for staff who have faced death and despair every day for over three months, our frontline heroes will continue to be failed. We need to care for our carers. It is time for the Government to give back to those who have sacrificed so much to keep our loved ones safe. Unless our staff are protected, they cannot continue their vital work of keeping us all safe.
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan: As a doctor and as a daughter I know social care is broken.
The deputy leadership candidate has spoken about the horror of finding her dad - who has dementia- injured and not knowing what happened. She wants to make sure no other family has to suffer that way.
Nothing prepares you for finding your loved one bruised and blooded. Nothing prepares you for never finding answers. This is the reality that every day, so many people are living through, across the UK, because of the nature of the social care system. Nothing prepared me for being one of the statistics.
My father has fronto-temporal dementia – he cannot communicate his thoughts but he is fully aware of what is happening. My brother and I found him bloodied and bruised on more than one occasion, we have sought answers but we know that we will never find them. He is safe now, but his health has deteriorated massively and has affected his life expectancy.
This is not just my reality. This is the reality for so many others across the country.
I am lucky. I was able to call a debate last year and get The Mirror to cover my family’s journey. Most people don’t have that luxury. Instead, they’re left fighting the social care system.
I’ve been on both sides. As an aggrieved family member and a local politician with a responsibility for social care, I’ve seen the strife that goes into placements on both sides. The system is failing our most vulnerable residents.
As it stands, the social care system is not fit for purpose. The Tories promised in their manifesto that they would tackle social care. It’s been three years – and yet still no Green Paper, despite countless promises.
Last week, in Parliament, I asked the Health Secretary how many more families will suffer before the Government looks to reform the social care system. There was no answer.
As an A&E doctor, who regularly sees vulnerable older people stranded in hospital because they don’t have access to adequate social care, and as a daughter, who’s had to go through this process, I have the following recommendations:
- A truly independent complaints process – formal complaints should not have to go through the care provider or local authority who the complaint is against.
- A reformed process for awarding care contracts – to ensure that failing companies cannot simply change their name and continue providing inadequate care.
- An Independent Advocate for Older People – to protect and promote the rights of older people.
- Mandatory CCTV with an opt-out – CCTV in communal areas within care homes should be mandatory to provide evidence of any unacceptable behaviour in a care setting.
- A fully funded social care system, integrated into our NHS, with a ban on outsourcing to private companies.
Increased funding alone won’t solve the problems being faced by our most vulnerable – only enacting the above changes will. At some point in our lives, we all have an experience with the social care system – as a daughter, I know how difficult it is when this system fails you.
As Labour Deputy Leader, I would continue putting pressure on this Tory Government and their poor record on social care. As a society, we must protect our most vulnerable – sadly, nothing prepares you for confronting the worst. As your Deputy Leader, I would work with the Leader of the Labour Party to put the NHS and social care front and centre of our policy going forward. We need to protect our most vulnerable. We need a Labour Government.