Friday, 11 May 2012

Why Care Can't Wait

Panorama has discovered a series of cases in which elderly people have been unsafe and unprotected in nursing homes. Instead of being looked after, vulnerable, elderly people were insulted, neglected, roughly handled or physically assaulted.

Sound familiar?

Yet it is not the episode aired on 23rd April this year where Fiona Phillips exposed the treatment of Maria Worroll at Ash Court. It is an episode that was aired on 12th February 2007. So, in five years, why has nothing been done to prevent these things occurring?

We have had other exposés in between most notably the abuse of people with Learning Disabilities at Winterbourne view but none of these seem to be able to make politicians care enough about social care to take real action on improving the lives of the most vulnerable.

We cannot solely blame the politicians, the national media must take some responsibility. Such events soon disappear from the news agenda and while Panorama will provide us with regular exposés they seem to lack the inclination to ask WHY is this still happening?

I was reminded of that Panorama episode when I was flicking through my copies of the magazine I used to write for. Ironically my column in that same edition focused on the success in care training that had been achieved as had been highlighted in that years “State of Social Care” report from the CSCI. At that point the National Minimum Standards required all care providers to have at least 50% of their staff with NVQ level 2 and real progress was being made on that. Unfortunately that requirement was dropped in 2010 and, in fact, there are no specific requirements at all for care providers to have qualified staff.

In that same column I also raise concerns about whether the level of success in training care workers can be sustained because of diminishing fee increase from Local Authorities and question the effect that proposed registration of care workers may have on the sector. Five years later those fees have continued to be lower than inflation (in the last few years there have been no increases at all) and the registration of care workers has evaporated into thin air.

My reason for looking through those back copies was to try and find when it was that Ivan Lewis faced a question from a backbencher on the practice of local authorities not raising fees to care providers or, if they were, at a rate below inflation. This was in March 2008 and he condemned the practice stating that care providers should, at the very least, expect an increase in fees that kept pace with inflation. Of course this has not happened and the amount being paid to provide care and support has fallen behind in real terms.

So, in essence, nothing has happened to tackle the issues facing social care over the past five years, now we face another delay to action on care.

In five years we still have Panorama exposes on care, we still have no actions on care worker registration and the amount paid to provide care and support to the vulnerable continues to fall behind and while we have had tinkering around the edges with changes in regulator etc no substantive political act has been taken in that time. 

We have had a consultation in 2008/2009 which led to a Green Paper in July 2009 followed but another consultation and a White Paper in March 2010. Then, with the change in Government, we had the Dilnot Commission launched in July 2010 and the Dilnot Report published in July 2011.

Surely we have had enough talking. 

This is why care can’t wait and we need action NOW not later