SIR – As a society we face a growing care challenge. We should celebrate the fact that we are all living longer lives, particularly disabled people and those with long-term conditions. But the unavoidable challenge we face is how to support the increasing number of people who need care. It is a challenge which we are failing to meet – resulting in terrible examples of abuse and neglect in parts of the care system.
This comes at huge cost to the dignity and independence of older and disabled people, but also to our society, family life and the economy. An estimated 800,000 older people are being left without basic care – lonely, isolated and at risk. Others face losing their homes and savings because of soaring care bills.
Disabled people are unable get the support they need to live their lives independently and be part of society.
Businesses are losing increasing numbers of experienced staff who are forced to give up work to care for older or disabled relatives. These carers can then be pushed to breaking point, providing round-the- clock care. Our NHS is also paying the price, as a lack of support leads to avoidable hospital admissions and then keeps older and disabled in hospital beds because they cannot be cared for at home.
We have a duty as a nation to change this – but it requires political leadership.
This summer, the independent Dilnot Commission into Funding of Care and Support published its recommendations. In response, the Government has committed to publishing a White Paper on Social Care by April. With new cross-party talks on the future of care, we are closer than ever to reaching a new consensus.
We urge the Government and the other party leaders to seize this opportunity for urgent, fundamental and lasting reform: delivering a social care system which can provide the well-funded and high-quality care and support we would all expect for ourselves and our families.