SOCIAL CARE CONFERENCE BIRMINGHAM 17 NOVEMBER 2018
Report by Carolyn Pickering.
The conference was opened by Brian Fisher (I didn’t catch which organisation he represents).
He mentioned the UN finding of grave and systematic breaches in human rights in the UK caused by austerity and the shrinking of the state.
He also mentioned the motion put to the Labour Party conference:-
– social care should be free and publically provided
– that it is at present underfunded and privatised
– that this is a equality issue.
This motion was not debated at the LP conference; it is a premise of this conference, which is to explore what social care will be needed in the future.
This campaign should run alongside campaigns for the NHS and other similar issues. There is some opposition to the integration of social care into the NHS but there are common starting points. It is an important issue of public health and has been starved of resources. It creates a burden on the NHS, as we ought to keep people in their homes and free up hospital beds. These people are called bed blockers but they are denied care that is needed, outside hospital.
Smaller nursing homes are on the brink of collapse and lack sufficient staff, and therefore the owners are tempted to sell the buildings.
The Labour Party is not providing direction, since there is no consensus. We need a new policy, not just the one put to LP conference, which was not even discussed.
There is lack of consensus in the TU’s, some are opposing nationalisation of domestic services. Most are in favour, but it is not unanimous.
Some key services, such as care of old, used to be in the NHS, but they have been taken out, are means tested and privatised. It has now been accepted that people should sell their houses and liquidise their assets to pay for care.
This should be a universal service and not subject to random charges. It should be publically funded and provided.
People are now subjected to eligibility criteria, the aim of which is to find almost all ineligible except for very extreme circumstances.
The cuts in finance have led to privatisation, staff cuts, 15 minutes appointments, untrained staff, and a fragmented, dysfunctional service.
This conference is to develop a common line of campaigning:- to prevent further erosion; to provide universal provision, free at the point of delivery; a professional service; properly trained staff. In other words, a new service of social care is needed.
The question is how to build a campaign to reclaim social care alongside the NHS.
Eleanor Smith MP
She remembered the time when we used to have care of the old.
The word “integrated” is now only a way of selling the new system. We do need an integrated service, but local government don’t want it because it would take it out of their control, and might make them irrelevant!!(my exclamation marks).
She has noticed that people are beginning to want tax ring fenced for social care and are willing to pay more taxes.
Allied Health Care are now in trouble and want to get rid of their obligations and send back to the NHS.
900 social care staff leave every week.
In 1948, the country had no money straight after the war, but we still set up the NHS anyway, so why can we not do that with social care.
The wrong people are being blamed – the system is being broken by the Government.
Campaigners for social care and NHS should work together, and minds in the LP and TU’s are beginning to change.
Eleanor Smith is willing to be involved in Social Care campaigning and could arrange meetings in Parliament and bring in other MP’s.
There is also a need to broaden out to include black and asian people.
Birmingham Care Workers
On strike against an employer-imposed rota with punishing hours, and which could lose them £11K p.a. in pay. Management is now agreeing to look at a new rota. Keeping the service for future generations is equally important.
Judy Downey – Chair/CEO Relatives and Residents Association
The value of this organisation is that it takes it out of the personal and speaks for users. Users have rights and it should not be up to the manager of the home to make the decision on eligibility. The Mental Incapacity Bill is dangerous as it gives the manager of the care home to right to make assessments, judgements and decisions.
Conor McGurran – NW Unison Dignity in Care Campaign
The campaign is about the bad care of users because workers are overworked, underpaid, exploited and bullied. One care worker had three days running with between 17 and 22 hours per day work schedule at £5 p.h. The homes are owned by huge global capital companies that are sucking out public money. We need to get rid of private companies and ensure minimum standards. There are new union members, activists and MP’s who are supporting the campaign.
Bob Williams-Findlay – “Being the Boss”/Reclaim our Futures, founder member of Birmingham Disability Rights Group – could not attend, so his speech was read out.
Power is in the hands of the few. People are disabled by society. Dependency is fostered. It needs to be recognized that disabled people are the best experts. “Being the Boss” is designed for people to reclaim their own rights to independant caring, co-created by disabled people and the Government.
Gill Ogilvie – GMB regional organiser, campaigner for saving childrens’ services, Labour MP for Walsall North.
We are the 6th richest nation but we have people living and dying on the streets because of Government cuts to local authorities. We are trying to save services: 1000 childrens’ centres have been closed; nurseries are being closed; adult services are being lost; funding of transport of children to schools is being cut. The result is that Walsall Council is having to attack the poorest and most vulnerable.
Jan Shortt – Gen Sec of National Pensioners Convention
When any care home owned by a corporation goes bust, the local authority cannot help. Social care should be set up as a national service alongside the NHS. If you have cancer you receive free care, if you have dementia, you pay for care, assessed on your assets. Social Care should be re-structured and re-nationalised – free at the point of delivery; publically accountable; what people actually need, not what money is available; a system of funding that is fair to all. There should dignity and respect and a better quality of life. This will cause radical mayhem in Parliament, but if everybody paid as they should in taxes, there would be no crisis. The public have no idea of what is coming and need to be energised.
Peter Beresford – Citizen Education, Essex university; Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, Brunel; author of “All our Welfare: Towards Participatory Social Policy
Social care now provides no safety net, no support, it is means tested as in the Victorian Poor Law, but there is now no notion of ‘deserving’ poor. People only qualify they are of low income and are ‘eligible’, but they won’t qualify if there is insufficient money in the system. Their needs are re-defined down to keep in budget. We need to support people with needs to have the fullest life possible, not regard them as a burden or fraud. This is the biggest domestic disaster and has not been noticed.
Investment in social care will work to help investment in health care. We must have an integrated social care service paid for out of taxation, free at the point of delivery; person centred support not based on the idea that there is something wrong with them. What would work would be a network of small organisations run by users. Decent support is crucial for modern civilisation.
Simon Duffy – Centre for Welfare Reform and Socialist Health Association
The failure of social care is the worst disaster in social policy. Adult social care has dropped 50% in the last two years. Reform of social care means a commitment to human rights. Power should be handed back down to local communities. There should be no means testing. Australia has gone to a universal, united, self-directed, non means-tested, positive and properly funded social care system for all.
I attended the Campaigns Workshop, led by Larry Sanders – Green Party health spokesperson.
Suggestions were for: media; TU’s/Trade Councils; stalls; banners; public meetings; working with and learning from other organisations. We need to inform the public about social care and they would ask how to afford it. Before starting the campaign, we should establish principles first for a coherent policy and to demonstrate the economic value of proper social care; why it is important that it is free at the point of delivery; and argue that it could affect everyone sooner or later. It generates employment as well as taking care of people, so there is a huge economic argument in its favour. Good health gives back four fold on investment. Some carers have given up paid employment to care for relatives. The turnover in staffing costs £3bn (?per annum?). It was pointed out that there was an element of feminism here in that it is mainly women working for and looking after old women.
It was suggested that all health campaigns should get together soon to decide how to take this further. We could look at the Australian model; get young people and social work students involves as it concerns their future; get feedback from users.
Capitalism doesn’t care – we must.
Public Ownership Workshop Report
There is the need to:- understand what is happening in the corporate sector; change Labour Party policy; start pursuing a Social Care Bill; TUC seem to be silent so should be consulted. There should be universal provision and local control. Most people need knowledge.
Carers Workshop Report
Many organisations are working in this area. We need an independant regulator and a commissioner on legal powers for old people.
Users Workshop Report
Take out profit making; change from the grassroots; we cannot rely on councils; there needs to be nationwide group cohesion; users should have decision making powers.