By Debbie le Quesne

The cost of dignity: Is the figure just too much?

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I know I have been banging on about dignity for what weeks weeks now, but the worth of the Dignity Action Day cannot be underestimated.

Dignity is central to all we attempt to do in the care sector. But there’s a problem and here it is: By 2015, local government will have lost a third of its budget this Parliament.

It means less resource for social care and already the number of those receiving packages is tumbling as a qualification criterion is raised.

In four years the figure has gone down by a quarter. And the drop comes despite the ageing population placing more pressure on the health and care system than ever before.

In 2008-09, the number of elderly and younger people with disabilities being cared for was 1.78m but by 2012-13 it was 1.32m, Health and Social Care Information Centre data shows.

Councils have been blamed unfairly, I believe. The government has, if we believe the spin, tried to protect social care – £1bn of NHS funding each year is ring-fenced for social care – but it’s just not enough, as the figures clearly reveal.

The biggest fall has been seen among the number of over-65s getting support. In 2013 the numbers fell by more than 10 per cent to under 900,000.

At the time the figures were made public in December last year, Richard Hawkes, chief executive of disability charity Scope and chairman of the Care and Support Alliance, said: “This is further evidence of a social care system on its knees and in desperate need of reform.”

Much is made of preventative measures to keep the elderly independent and out of residential care.

It’s a good call, but it will never work effectively unless the government puts its money where its mouth is.

Are we desperate? I believe so. Even the Local Government Association admits so.

Dignity, unfortunately has a price tag. It takes time to deliver dignified care. For example, feeding can be a slow process when the client is supported in the task, rather than be spoon-fed.

Care Minister Norman Lamb has been quoted as saying care is a “priority” for the government. Really?

I have read that from 2015 a new pooled budget of £3.8bn would be established between the NHS and local government. Somehow, I have a feeling of foreboding. . it doesn’t seem enough and I fear that ministers are out of touch with the crisis happening in care.


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