With social care funding cut to the bone, more and more families are forced to step in to look after vulnerable family members owing to an extreme shortage of trained assistance, and many are leaving work and endangering their jobs and their own well-being and happiness to shoulder the responsibility of a task that should be done by qualified personnel.
Research implies the nation’s army of voluntary carers has risen from three million in 2011 to five million today, and so extreme is the situation that over the past two years, more than 600 people have left their jobs every day to fill the gap in social care left by £7 billion cuts since the Tories came to power.
The Mirror has started the Fair Care for All campaign, with seven demands to stop the crisis sparked by years of harsh Conservative austerity, and this deluge of people having to give up work to care for an elderly relation is the direct consequence of harsh Tory austerity which has seen fewer and fewer people and families able to access social care.
Cuts to council funding mean £7 billion has been lost from social care spending since the Tories came to power. That suggests limited social care for vulnerable people and poorer quality care for those that do get it, adding pressure to give care on to their hard-pressed families.
State funding for social care has declined by 27 per cent since 2010. This has left 400,000 fewer people getting expert attention, and Carers UK is calling on employers to support staff who have to look after elderly or disabled relatives.
Better workplace provision for people balancing work with caring is becoming an increasingly major problem, yet the Department of Health and Social Care have stated that they’re determined to help carers to stay in or gain employment, including through the Carers Action Plan, which is a two year plan of targeted work, including working with councils on the best practice for carers breaks and respite.
Terry Kirton gave up a well-paid job and went back home to care for his frail 92-year-old father, Rod. He gets an allowance of £62.40 a week, which hardly meets the expenses of running the house, and Rod’s benefits were cut when his son returned home.
Along with Income Support, the two survive on about £400 a month, but when Terry went back home one time something had changed, he just looked like a fragile old man.
Terry asked him how he was doing and he simply said “Okay”, but he could see he wasn’t coping, and his father just broke down sobbing and said the house was too large and too difficult and it was too much.
So, there was no other choice but to go back home to look after his father, but being a carer is extremely isolating, you lose your individuality, you lose your colleagues at work and going to social functions.
Only child Terry was a manager at a Harley Street hospital in London before going back to Monmouth, South Wales, and it’s shocking that there are so many unpaid carers, and if all these carers decided they couldn’t cope and stopped for just one day, then the entire system would fail.
The Government needs to understand there’s so much goodwill out there amongst families, but you can’t pay the bills on goodwill, and there needs to be a creation of a National Care System that works beside the NHS.
Professional carers need to be paid the Living Wage, and there also needs to be an end to carers coming into homes and staying 15 minutes or less because people that I’ve talked to have stated that carers are coming in, and the families are timing them, and they’re in and out in less than 15 minutes, consequently things are not getting done correctly, beds are not being made how they should be, food is not given correctly and countless elderly and disabled people are not being washed well enough.
They should also increase the carers allowance for unpaid carers, and promote a national system of volunteering to spend time with the elderly and disabled because many of these people are housebound and have nobody to talk to, and are usually pretty isolated.
They should further have a dedicated Minister for the Elderly and Disabled, and a National Commission on how to finance the care revolution that the elderly and disabled need because many people leave employment to care for their elderly or disabled families and have no idea how to cope.
The Department of Health and Social Care stated that they’re determined to help carers to stay in or gain employment through their Carers Action plan, they’re having a laugh!
The reason most people have to give up work is to look after a family member, it’s not like they even have enough time to look for work, but technically they’re employed because they’re looking after a family member, they simply don’t get paid for it.
Giving up work to become a full-time carer will steal that person of their job, their friends, social life, well-being, their money and their dignity, and eventually, it will take its toll on the one thing they have left, their relationship with the very person they care for.
The government don’t care, why should they, they have a cheap labour force working for them under the pretence of the title of “unpaid carer”, but most people would do the same all over again because they love the person they care for, but one should consider really carefully before taking this step because it’s a slippery slope to a life of hell where you have nothing much coming in and creditors hunting you for debts that you’ve built up, and it’s no picnic, and there’s no respite, and any assistance you do qualify for you will have to pay for because nothing is free.