A Mencap spokeswoman has outlined to groups of influential MPs the value that social care has for people with learning disabilities to enable them to live independently in the community.
Lorraine Bellamy (pictured), who has a learning disability, told the joint meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Health and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Learning Disability about how she struggled to live independently before she had social care at home.
The meeting looked at the future of social care and discussed the Care Bill, which is currently being debated in Parliament.
Research by Mencap and other disability charities including Scope and the National Autistic Society, published in The other care crisis report in 2013, claimed that more than 100,000 disabled people will not have access to care and support for basic needs under the Government’s proposed changes to eligibility criteria in the Care Bill.
“I have been living on my own now for six years and I used to not get any support at home, I struggled a lot,” Bellamy told MPs. “Mencap helped me get a social worker and six hours of support a month from social services. It has made a big difference and really helps me.”
Bellamy added that just six hours of social care support a month keeps her in work, out of debt, and able to do activities that she is passionate about.
“My social worker, Gina, helps me with letters about my tax credits which are really difficult to understand. She helps me read and understand my telephone bills, my gas bills, my insurance and my statements from the bank. She has helped me set up direct debits so I can pay my bills and not get into debt.
“Gina also supports me to go out more and she pushes me to do things. I enjoy swimming but find it difficult on my own. Being with her gives me confidence. She also supports me with cooking. I love cooking and she helps me make cakes and biscuits for me to bring into work.”
One third of people who use social care services are working-age disabled people. Social care for working-age disabled adults is under-funded by at least £1.2 billion, according to the follow-up Ending the other care crisis report. In addition, 40% of people with a disability said that social care services don’t meet their basic needs like washing, dressing or getting out of the house, and 47% said that the services they receive do not enable them to take part in community life.
Bellamy urged the Government to listen to the voices of people with a disability to make sure they don’t lose out on the vital support they need to live independent lives: “I’m worried that there are people worse off than me who don’t get any support at all and worry about what happens to them. I hope the Government and others listen to people with a learning disability and their families so that they get the support they need.”