Half a million people under the age of 65 receive council funded social care services. That is around a third of all those receiving services and there is a danger they become excluded in the wider social care debate.
We have seen some excellent initiatives in dementia recently, albeit maybe not going quite far enough, but we need the social care debate to encompass all those who need societies support in life. The funding debate in social care has almost exclusive focused on the Dilnot proposals and how elderly care is paid for. How much should older people contribute to care they receive, what should be the threshold for capital etc. This debate has little to with those under the age of 65.
Similarly we have seen the debate of health and social care integration. There is no doubt that the two are related but more so in relation to elderly care than the support needed for those under 65. Those with physical or learning disabilities and those with mental health issues do need support in health but they need support in daily life, support with housing needs and support with employment and welfare in order to live as independently as possible.
The number of those under 65 receiving council funded services has, in line with the general trend, declined slightly but this does not mean there are less people needing societies support, simply that the eligibility criteria for receiving support has tightened and the fact that support centres have closed because of the budgetary constraints on local authorities meaning less support being available to many.
As with all areas of social care there are many who do not appear on the statistics but that does not mean they are any less deserving of societies support. In addition there are many families who provide support for individuals who also need our help. The changes in demographics and the ageing nation applies to those with physical and learning disabilities as it does to the general population and there are an increasing number of elderly parents still caring for a child without the support of society.
Social care is wider than just health and should be treated as equally as any other area of social policy.
The health and social care integration debate and the focus on elderly care detracts from this wider function of social care and marginalises those who are under 65 and who need more than just health support in social care settings.
We need to raise ALL social care into the spotlight and social care needs to have the same Government input as Education, Welfare, Health and Employment therefore it needs a cabinet minister for social care as this will put it on an equal footing with these other areas of social policy.
Please take the time to sign my e-petition calling for a Cabinet Minister for Social Care - http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/39701