Monday, 9 January 2012

Care - one of the biggest challenges for the country

Every Christmas, I spend two weeks visiting care homes across Thanet – meeting with residents, talking to them and their families, and thanking the staff who are so committed to supporting residents through the festive period. We have a range of different types of homes and support for the elderly across Thanet and I am always so impressed by the dedication and kindness of the staff.
The caring sector, however, is not all rosy. Investigations by programmes such as Panorama have exposed upsetting examples of how care for the most vulnerable can go very badly wrong. As many families may have discovered, there are also problems with care packages whilst caring for a loved one can place a great strain on an individual.
Having been a Carer myself this is an issue which is particular close to my heart and I am working with national organisations – particularly Carers UK - to ensure that the social care system sees some real improvements. As charities suggested this week, we should celebrate the fact that we are all living longer lives - particularly those with disabilities and long term conditions.  But as a country, we must ensure the necessary is in place to support the increasing number of people who require care. Ensuring the elderly are not left lonely, isolated and at risk will be one of the biggest challenges for this Government.
The Government has inherited a system which sees family members shouldering the majority of the caring responsibilities, leaves them with huge care bills and businesses losing good staff so that they can care for their loved ones.
By up-rating state pensions by £23.01 a month and with Ministers in the Department of Health pledging to outline reforms to the social care system in the Spring, it is clear the Government recognises the importance of our elderly citizens. In its first year in office, the Government commissioned the independent Dilnot Review into how social care costs should be met and the Minister, Paul Burstow, this week said that reform of social care was his “urgent priority”. I will be maintaining the pressure to ensure that we secure the sort of care system that guarantees the dignity and independence all our wonderful older residents so deserve. I would like to wish readers a very Happy New Year.

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