By Nadeem Badshah
CAMPAIGNERS have called for an overhaul of adult social care after a damning report called for ministers to spend £8 billion to bring it to “acceptable levels”.
They have warned that the system is affecting more south Asian families than estimated and said services are not reaching out to them.
The House of Lords research urged the government to introduce free personal care, funded through taxes, over five years.
The study found that family and friends are being put under more pressure to provide unpaid care while a postcode lottery means some Britons with dementia risk bankruptcy by being forced to pay for their medical bills.
The Health Foundation and King’s Fund estimate the government needs to spend £8bn to match the quality and access in 2009/10.
Nadra Ahmed, chairwoman of the National Care Association, said that “local and central government have failed to invest in a sector where the demographics clearly show an increase in need”.
Ahmed told Eastern Eye: “The care being delivered is complex and incorporates healthcare conditions such stroke recovery, managing Parkinson’s, supporting people with dementia, and end of life care just to name a few. The term ‘social care’ belies what it delivers.
“Successive governments have failed to resolve the issues despite acknowledging the challenges. So we now face a crisis which will require a radical and innovative step-change which will require the kind of investment quoted in the report.
“BAME communities in this country seldom step forward to access social care, so when you see the statistics in the report, I suspect the numbers are greater. The reality is that BAME communities retain the ethos of caring for their elders and, as such, will not always understand the levels of support available to them.
“There are patches of good practice throughout the country, but on the whole, there has been minor engagement with the hard-to-reach communities to see the levels of support they need when they are at their most vulnerable.”
The report by the Economic Affairs Committee said more than one million adults who need social care are not receiving it, a situation which it branded a “national scandal”.
It found that publicly funded social care support is £700 million lower compared to 2010-2011, despite increases in the numbers of people who need care.
And more than 400,000 people have fallen out of the means test to get financial help.
Helen Walker, chief executive of Carers UK, told Eastern Eye: “The Lords report highlights the many issues with our stretched care system and the consequences that the funding gap of £8bn has for millions of families stepping in to provide more and more unpaid care. It is having a serious impact on carers’ ability to stay in work and look after their own health and relationships alongside caring.
“The stress caused by this juggling act can be seen across all communities. But in Asian communities where expectations to care for a family can be greater it is sometimes harder for unpaid carers to identify themselves and seek help.
“As a result, carers in Asian and BAME communities are too often missing out on financial or practical help and going without the breaks they need.”
A recent report by the Carers UK charity found that more than half of unpaid carers are unable to save for their own retirement.
Meanwhile, research by the Alzheimer’s Society in July found that dementia sufferers have spent almost £15 billion of their own money on social care while awaiting promised government reforms.
In March 2017, ministers promised a social care green paper by the summer, but it has been delayed at least six times.
The new analysis shows that since then, families have footed the £14.47bn bill on care for those with dementia, while ministers have contributed £9.3bn.
Mandy Sanghera, a government adviser on disabilities, said: “Sadly, a lot of Asians on modest incomes often end up caring for their parents. Many end up using their life savings to pay for care. We need to end the inequalities and support the most disadvantaged. We cannot have a two-tier system.”
Lord Forsyth of Drumlean, chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, warned that “social care is severely underfunded” and the “whole system is riddled with unfairness”.
“Local authorities are increasingly expected to fund social care themselves, despite differences in local care demands and budgets. The reduction in social care funding has been greatest in the most deprived areas.
“And local authorities can’t afford to pay care providers a fair price, forcing providers to choose whether to market to those people who fund their own care or risk going bankrupt.”
Labour MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi is a trustee of the Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services charity. He said: “I’m deeply concerned that our social care sector is in crisis, with severe consequences for the quality of care, public finances, personal assets, and pressure on unpaid carers of family and friends.
“We are still waiting for the government to publish its green paper on social care, something they promised in March 2017.
“The system needs to be sustainable for the longterm. Ministers need to set out the reforms that social care needs.”
However, care minister Caroline Dinenage warned the long-delayed green paper would not solve all the sector’s problems.
She said: “I feel a sense of responsibility to point out that neither the green paper nor any government decision, whether local or national, will solve all the challenges that we face in adult social care. That is only someone we can all achieve by working together and by organisations and by communities.”
Dinenage added that Brexit negotiations had left the Department of Health and Social Care “fighting for political oxygen” to find an opportunity to deliver the paper.