Over the past 20 years I’ve seen a rise in the number of complaints about unfairness in our social care system. From access to services, charges for care to the sale of assets to pay for continuing support, the system is clearly not responding as it should.
Demographic changes continue to increase demand for services while imaginative and effective reorganisations such as the merging of adult health and social care as in Torbay go some way to mitigating the pressures. But fundamental changes are needed if we are to meet the challenges of a future where more people than ever will require social care.
The Care and Support White Paper and draft Bill led by Lib Dem Care Services Minister Paul Burstow removes the helplessness that people often feel, by giving them a choice of where, how and what kind of care they receive.
This means people across the country will receive care that is better, more consistent, and which will remain that way for the long term.
These documents signal the most radical reform of social care in more than 60 years. They are a symbol of how Liberal Democrats in government are making positive change happen on the ground – real change that will directly impact on the way people live their lives.
These reforms will improve the quality of care and fix a system that is not fit for purpose. The White Paper sets out a vast range of changes to how we do social care in this country, including:
- Ruling out the practice of crude ‘clock-watching’ home care visits that undermine people’s dignity.
- Introducing for the first time ever, new rights to care and support for the country’s estimated five million carers.
- Putting an end to the postcode lottery of care by introducing a national eligibility threshold for basic care.
- Making sure people have clear and practical information on the care system and a way to report bad care.
In Coalition we have secured an extra £7.2 billion for social care by 2014 because we know council spending is under pressure and we want to protect services for vulnerable people.
Our manifesto included a commitment to establish a commission to look at the question of long term funding for social care and as I have written in the past the proposals put forward by Prof Dilnot should be used as a basis for implementing long-overdue reform, and now, hopefully, they will be.
By the time this is published we should be in the middle of the most amazing event the UK has organised for generations. The 2012 London Games will be in full swing and hopefully taking place without any major hitches.
I was offered tickets for the 100m mens’ final by one the corporate sponsors but I tuned them down on principle. The invite was from BT and was a consequence of my select committee membership where we oversee communications regulation.
The first response from everyone I’ve spoken to has been well done but followed up with can I have the tickets! Sadly, they are not transferrable. There should be a clear distinction between corporate lobbying and public service. Even if MPs aren’t swayed by being given freebies, the public perception is always going to be that of doing favours for powerful vested interests.
There is, however, a key role for MPs to play as unpaid Olympic Ambassadors. Sounds grand but with 120 heads of State and several times that number of foreign dignitaries attending one or more of the events, the organisers have asked for a team of volunteers to help chaperone them.
The Ambassadors are mostly Government Ministers, but members of the Culture, Media, Sport and Olympics Select Committee have also been invited because having followed and scrutinised the organising of the Games from bid to show-time it’s assumed we can handle any questions that might arise.
If I am called upon to help out it will involve meeting someone at their accommodation and escorting them to a venue and ensuring their visit runs smoothly and they take away the very best impression of our country.
Good news on the dental front as thousands of additional NHS dental places are to become available in Paignton.
Smile Dental Care has opened a practice on Marldon Road, Paignton and is expected to create about 6,000 new dental places in the area over the next couple of years.
If you wish to sign up for an NHS dentist you should contact the local NHS dental helpline on 0845 002 0034 or 01392 822 348 or email email@example.com.