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Spokesman Seeks Referendum on Social Care Crisis a LeadiNg spokesman has called for the country to hold a referendum on social care amidst a crisis in the way the country looks after older and vulnerable adults.

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Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, also told social care providers that it is time for action on a crisis that is harming social care and heaping further strain on the NHS. Speaking to a conference’s delegates in Harrogate, Mr Padgham said: “Can we have a referendum on social care and ask the country if it wants to pay a little more so that our older citizens – and that will include all of us soon enough – can have some proper care in our later years?” Across the country care homes are closing and homecare providers are handing back contracts as the financial squeeze on social care providers continues. Bodies, including the inspection body the Care Quality Commission and Association of Director of Social Services (ADASS) are warning that social care is at “tipping point”. Latest statistics make grim reading: 1m people are now living with unmet care needs; social care spending has been cut by £5bn+ since 2009-10; and 26% fewer people are getting the help they need. A £2.8bn funding gap is predicted by 2019-20 and in domiciliary care alone a £500m funding gap has been identified. Between 2009 and 2015 the number of people receiving local authority-funded domiciliary care fell by 20%. The UKHCA and ADASS both report providers handing back “unsustainable” contracts.

On care homes, a quarter of homes in the UK – some 5,000 – are said to be in danger of going out of business, after 3,000 homes closed in the six months up to Sept 2015. The Number of nursing homes fell from 4,697 to 4,633 in 2015-2016 – the first decline in five years. Mr Padgham added: “Who takes the blame for the mess social care is in and the consequent huge burden it is adding to NHS healthcare? “The Prime Minister for failing to address social care? Should it be the Government Minister for failing to speak up for the cause? Should it be council officers and councillors? Do we all share some of the blame for failing to care for the country’s most vulnerable?” The Independent Care Group is calling for the sector to make more noise and for more funding to be put into social care, for greater use to be made of independent providers and for social care to be merged with NHS care, to ensure proper ‘cradle to grave’ care provision. In recent weeks there have been growing warnings about the future of social care, with former Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb warning: “The NHS and social care face an existential crisis. Demand for services continues to rise year on year but funding is failing to keep up. The position in social care is perhaps even more serious. Growing pressures on services are so severe that all parties must come together to fundamentally re-think how we can guarantee the future of the NHS and social care services.” And David Behan, Chief Executive of the Care Quality Commission, warned: “The evidence suggests we may be approaching a tipping point.”

Elsie, 95, and Tony, 75, Prove “It’s Never Too Late” elsie, 95, and tony, 75, who are both residents at Care uK’s Broadwater Lodge care home, surprised everyone by announcing their engagement and then agreeing to share it with the nation via a BBC News film. When a 95-year old widow moved into a care home in Surrey two years ago, she really wasn’t expecting to find herself falling in love again. But that’s exactly what happened when love blossomed at Broadwater Lodge for Elsie Bradbury and her fiancé Tony Frogley. 75-year old Tony moved to the Care UK-run Broadwater Lodge home following a long stay in hospital earlier this year. At first, he preferred to spend his time alone in his room as he didn’t think he would have much in common with the other residents. Carers working at the home eventually persuaded him to venture out of his room to one of the sunny lounges overlooking a garden where he was introduced to Elsie. Within a few days the care home

team noticed Elsie and Tony deep in conversation and within weeks they had become inseparable. It was only when home manager Angie Bookham noticed them whispering and holding hands that she realised she had a real-life love story unfolding in her home. Angie said: “Elsie has a wicked sense of humour and I think she was just the tonic Tony needed after he had been poorly for so long. Several times I walked into the lounge and saw them holding hands and giggling like teenagers so I knew they were growing very close. However it was a bit of a surprise last month when they announced that they had decided to get engaged and asked us to help them choose rings and arrange an engagement party for their family and friends.” The happy couple have also found themselves in the limelight after the BBC digital team came down to make a heart-warming short film about their romance which has already been viewed nearly 120,000 times on Facebook.

The Carer #35 Winter 2017  

Issue #35 of The Carer - The leading independent publication for nursing and residential care homes. Published Winter (January) 2017.