In a new report published today (5 November), people with learning disabilities give their opinion on the Government’s plans for social care and discuss how their lives will be affected by the proposals.
Produced by the national disability charity, United Response, ‘Our Future’, looks at Government plans published in the recent White Paper and Draft Care and Support Bill from the perspective of United Response’s Campaigns Panel, a group of service users with learning disabilities and their relatives, surveyed and interviewed by the charity.
With the Government currently considering the responses it received during the public consultation on its proposals, ‘Our Future’ is a timely report. It reveals that while service users and their relatives feel that some of the proposed reforms would make a really positive difference, almost all are concerned about current levels of funding for care; what is going to happen to their benefits; and how their support will be affected as a result. Free care for disabled people, as well as better access to support for those with mild and moderate needs and those with multiple disabilities were all regarded by the panel as crucial to providing people with the support that they need.
Speaking about free care, one member of the Campaigns Panel, Shairaz, said: “Some people will need support for the rest of their lives and you can’t expect them to pay for it. Disabled people shouldn’t have to pay for it. We have to accept our disability and the Government has to accept it too.”
He also felt that many people have unseen needs, which are not being met.
“I think that people with learning disabilities and mental health needs don’t get enough support. You need to look beyond physical appearances. People can be like apples or eggs – they look fine on the surface, but you don’t know what’s going on underneath.”
For Vicky, a second member of the panel, access to care for those with mild and moderate needs is a matter of equality.
“It is important to talk to people with mild and moderate needs and their relatives to ask what they think and what the person with a disability needs. This would also help more people to understand them better and to be treated equally.”
Alongside the impact of Government’s proposals, ‘Our Future’ also looks at whether disabled people and their families are being kept informed of changes that could affect them and the care they receive. With only one third of the panel being able to name in detail any of the proposals, prior to taking part in ‘Our Future’, the report highlights the ongoing need for information to be made more accessible.
The report, which includes an afterword from disability campaigner, Kaliya Franklin, concludes by calling on all politicians to make a commitment to social care and disabled people by:
- Ensuring that there is enough funding to make care and support work.
- Listening to the views of disabled people and involving them in future decisions.
Speaking about ‘Our Future’, United Response chief executive, Su Sayer, said: “The social care system in this country is in urgent need of reform. At the moment too many disabled people are not receiving the support they need and even those that are remain concerned that their support could be reduced.
“The White Paper and draft legislation present us with an opportunity to offer disabled people a much more secure future, but this can only happen if the system is properly funded and people with disabilities are fully involved in the process.
“Disabled people deserve to have the care and support that they need and which works. We must not let them or future generations down by missing this opportunity to fix a system which is severely overstretched.”
‘Our Future’ is available in a joint text and Easy Read format. To download a copy of the report, go to www.unitedresponse.org.uk/OurFuture.