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COMMUNITY|WHAT’S YOUR FOURTH EMERGENCY SERVICE?
Eddy McDowall CEO OACP talks about...the role social care plays in
our individual lives and the national economy’s ability to function...
What’s your fourth emergency service?
Many organisations claim to be a fourth emergency service after police, fire and ambulance, not least the AA (other breakdown services are available). A better claim might be made by the Coastguard, RNLI, or mountain rescue.
But what about social care? Where does that feature in your list of essential or emergency services? What role does social care play in our individual lives and the national economy’s ability to function?
Talking Care readers may be familiar with the steep reductions in public service funding over the past 11 years, and most recently with the 95 budget cuts (including children’s centres) passed by Oxfordshire County Council following swingeing cuts in the Local Government Settlement Grant. We should sympathise with our local authority. Mounting demand for services is being met by decreasing budgets. Disabled and elderly people are being caught in the middle with the NHS in particular catching the fall­out to enormous cost. Supporting people in our communities through social care is a huge part of the national economy affecting large proportions of our communities with an upward trend.
Let’s take a look at the numbers...
2014-15...
£17bn was spent on
adult social care
in England
(Health and Social Care Information Centre, 2014­15)
1 in 5 people of working age has a disability
(Disability Living Foundation, 2016)
There were over...
5m carers in England in 2011 a rise of 11%
on the previous 10 years
Unpaid care provided is worth an estimated £119bn per year – considerably more than the
total spending on the NHS
(Carers UK, 2011)
It’s safe to say that all of us are in contact with someone using, or needing, some kind of social care support. If it’s not you, or your family, affected, it will be a colleague at work. Social care is an integral part of our modern society, but it’s impact is often hidden or masked.
Though subsequent versions vary, the King James version of the Bible, quotes 1 Corinthians, verse 13 as: 'And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity'.
As we continue to manage the ongoing pressure on public services, we know that, like a fall in slow motion, we will hit the ground eventually and it will hurt.
Faith, Hope and Charity will not be enough to save many disabled, vulnerable and elderly people from the loss of essential services.
In ancient Japanese folklore, sons were said to carry an elderly, or frail, relative to the top of the mountain to die.
The practice, known as ubasute or obasute, and sometimes oyasute (親捨て) –
The number of people
aged 85
and over reached
1.3m in 2008 By 2033...
this group is projected to more than double to reach
3.32m, or 5%
of the total population
3 in 5 people will be a carer at some point in their lives
abandoning or discarding a parent – refers to the custom allegedly performed in Japan in the distant past. An infirm or elderly relative, was carried to a mountain, or some other remote, desolate place, and left there to die, either by dehydration, starvation, or exposure, as a form of euthanasia.
Her wizened face shone!
A frail old woman weeping, the moon her companion.
The motivation behind this
was that, if there were fewer people eating the limited reserves of food, there would be more to go around and it would last longer. The practice was allegedly most common during times of drought and famine, and was sometimes mandated by feudal officials.
We don't have mountains in Oxfordshire, and precious few desolate places, but with the latest social care and voluntary sector budget cuts, adding to year on year downward pressure on registered care contract prices, will we consider piggy­ backing frail relatives up White Horse Hill and Wittenham Clumps?
It's not an exaggeration to say that the pressure on vulnerable people, carers (many of them under 18), families and communities is becoming unbearable with personal emergencies happening every day.
We have a responsibility to ensure that this does not happen. We must ensure that we look after those who need support; and to look after those who are doing the looking after.
It’s too costly not to.
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