The government was warned against the potential dangers of not recognising the need to reflect the true cost of care for older people when it reforms adult social care. The warning came at a Conservative Party Conference fringe discussion held on Monday 2nd October by Church and charity, The Salvation Army and chaired by Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester.
Elaine Cobb, Director Older People's Services for The Salvation Army, said in her speech at the event: “The Salvation Army is there for people during a crisis. This is who we are – we’re often described as ‘Christianity with its sleeves rolled up’. This is what we do – we live and work alongside some of the most disadvantaged and marginalised individuals and communities.
“When parents can’t afford to feed their children during the school holidays – this is a crisis. When an older person moves into residential care – this too can be a crisis. But we don’t think that it should be.
“Often, it is only at the point of crisis that families and friends realise the social care their loved one will receive depends upon what they can afford.
“Let us be frank, there are still many older people who live in poverty. They have to choose between ‘eating and heating’, they do not own their own homes, they have not benefitted from changes to the economy, they do not know how set up an online direct-debit so that they can secure the best rates.
“We ask the Government, in their forthcoming Adult Social Care Green Paper, to explicitly recognise the needs and worth of those accessing social care, who do not own their own home, have limited resources and whose family are frequently asked, if not required, to pay top-up fees.
“We recommend that this Government reforms adult social care funding so that it reflects the true cost of care, especially for the most disadvantaged and vulnerable older people. As always, we are keen to avert a crisis, and this includes the future of adult social care.”
Importantly, the discussion concluded that, the starting point for the discussion needs to be what does good quality care look like while ensuring older people aren’t seen as a burden.
Dr David Walker, Bishop of Manchester, said: “We need to start with the quality of what we want rather than the huge financial problem. We need to shift this debate because it’s become stuck.
“Above all, again, along with the quality of the service provided, people are people. For me wearing my collar and cross, everyone is a child of God made in God’s own image and are hugely precious for that.
“So, it’s how we see those who are recipients of care. Whatever age they are and whatever reason it is they require that care, we need to see them as an asset to society, and not a burden.”
Nikki Thompson, manager of The Salvation Army’s Prestwich care home also joined the panel, along with Jim Boyd, director and head of research at Think Tank Reform, as well as Dr Helen Cameron, Head of Public Affairs for The Salvation Army.
Nikki provided examples of the challenges the current funding system provides to the families whose loved ones she cares for.
Dr Helen, said: "So, all of us in this room, we have a responsibility of bringing adult social care back to the table as an agenda item.
"This is about care and, quality is where we should be starting. And, equal dignity is where we should be starting. So, I hope that people who have a values commitment to do this kind of work will articulate these values so it doesn't just become about funding."
The audience, which consisted of attendees of the Conservative Party Conference, were given an opportunity to question the panel.
The Salvation Army runs a number of services for older people across the country including day care sessions, specialised befriending groups as well as 14 residential care homes.
For more than 150 years The Salvation Army has worked with some of the most vulnerable people, transforming lives.