Adults with disabilities in England are being deprived of basic care and support and are at risk of being forgotten in the wider reform of the social care system, according to a new report by a coalition of charities.
The coalition, comprising Mencap, Scope, the National Autistic Society (NAS), Leonard Cheshire Disability and Sense, have warned that while much of the focus of care reforms has centred on the crisis facing older people’s care, a squeeze on council care means people with disabilities under the age of 65 are missing out too.
The group launched its report, The Other Care Crisis, as Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy PM Nick Clegg have agreed a deal for elderly and disabled adults to be given state protection against unlimited care home fees for the first time.
However, The Other Care Crisis suggests that this will "largely benefit older people who have built up substantial assets through savings, pensions and property".
By contrast younger adults with disabilities are less likely to have such assets, and should the draft Care & Support Bill go through, co-authors Mencap estimate it will leave thousands without social care support.
Mark Goldring, chief executive of Mencap, said: "Imagine not being able to eat, wash or dress yourself. It is unforgiveable that there are disabled people in England today who aren’t given support for these basic needs, because the social care system has failed them.
“The Government cannot ignore this damning evidence and must commit to long term funding, which will support disabled people to live a life with dignity.”
The report brings together 600 disabled people’s experiences, along with research from the London School of Economics and its Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU). It found that:
•Almost 4 in 10 people with disabilities who receive social care support are not having their basic needs met – including eating, washing, dressing or getting out of the house
•Nearly 5 in 10 people with disabilities said a lack of social care support prevented them from taking part in community life
•The Government’s social care plans risk leaving up to 105,000 disabled people without basic support
•A £1.2 billion funding gap in social care support for disabled people under age of 65 has been exposed.
It also showed that there are now 90,000 fewer people receiving help than in 2008 despite a rise in the number of people living with disabilities.
Scope’s chief executive, Richard Hawkes, added: "The Government has got a fantastic opportunity at the moment to get this right. This is shocking evidence of a system that has failed disabled people, effectively condemning them to a life without basic dignity and invisible to society.
"Times are tough for everyone but being able to eat, wash and leave your home is not a luxury."
Mark Lever, chief executive of the NAS, added: “For less than 0.2% of public expenditure the Government could ensure that over 100,000 vulnerable people have access to support that meets their basic human needs. Failing to provide this care for adults with autism can have a profound and sometimes devastating effect, resulting in people developing more serious mental health problems that will ultimately be at greater cost to the public purse.
“The social and communication difficulties that people with autism face are often misunderstood by social care assessors, leading to people with the condition being deemed ineligible for support. It is therefore vital that the Government also ensures that all assessors are trained in autism. “Where this does not happen there is a real danger that people will miss out on essential care and consequently find themselves living lives of hardship and misery.”
While the report points to a £1.2 billion funding gap for younger disabled adults, Care Services Minister Norman Lamb has called on local authorities to: "redesigning services to find more efficient ways of working".
Read the full report at www.scope.org.uk/sites/default/files/The_Other_Care_Crisis.pdf