‘We are people too’, disabled adults tell government after social care failures

Disability campaigner Emma Blackmore
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Disabled working-age adults have said the government needs to recognise they “are people too”, after failures in social care left some with a choice between “heating and eating”.

Social care

The government has pledged to invest £36bn to help the NHS recover and reform the adult social care system over the next three years – with social care receiving £5.4bn.

The plan includes an extension of the Disabled Facilities Grant, which currently offers funding for changes to disabled people’s homes such as adding ramps or a stairlift, but many feel the proposals will offer them little support.

Emma Blackmore from Bristol was born with congenital rubella syndrome and is deafblind, and said she feels disabled care users have been “put on the back burner”.

Emma Blackmore (Emma Blackmore/Sense/PA)

She told the PA news agency:

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Obviously we were given a commitment a few years back and it’s not been followed and when the information came out with what’s been going on with the latest plan, it just shows that we’ve been put on the backburner again

It could result in people in the social care sector being put in the health sector. It could put our lives at risk because of cuts in services.

Blackmore volunteers and works for Sense, a charity that supports those with disabilities. She runs an inclusive group for children with disabilities and children of any pre-school age, which had to stop during the pandemic.

The pandemic also impacted the support she was getting from Guide Dogs UK, such as learning to use a cane to get around, amongst other social care services she used. This resulted in her becoming “really withdrawn” and “anxious”. She added:

The Government don’t seem to understand that we are people too

I think the Government should maybe come out and talk to disabled people and see how it is actually affecting us.

It seems like local charities have done what they can – I have been supported by one in Bristol for sight support… but there is only so much that they can do.

Blackmore also stressed the importance of making plans and documents accessible to everyone, as she had to ask her boss to simplify the government’s recent plan.

Dementia study
Some disabled adults fear the focus of the Government’s plan to tackle social care issues is for the elderly, not disabled people of working age (Yui Mok/PA)

“Absolute nightmare”

Deborah, who did not share her second name, told PA she thinks that the government’s social care plan is “concentrated on old people and people who may have their own homes”.

The 51-year-old from Bury has auto-immune diseases, as well as autism and ADHD, and has been seeking care since 2004. She worked at a probation service office until 2005, when she was medically retired, and said the cost of care has left her with a choice between “heating and eating”.

She told PA:

The system for charging is an absolute nightmare – it’s so complex. The councils can charge what they like up to a certain amount and that’s the contribution that people pay for the social care.

I cannot access any kind of care because I just cannot afford it.

I became suicidal thinking life just doesn’t have any purpose or meaning for me anymore because I’m sort of trapped at home. I haven’t got a support network and this system is just so brutal.

A department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said:

We are investing an additional £5.4 billion over three years to reform adult social care which includes an extension of the Disabled Facilities Grant, enabling more people with disabilities to live independently and in their own homes.

The Government recognises there is more to do and our objective is to join up the health and care systems through the use of personalised care, which will better meet the needs of individuals and help them live more fulfilling lives.

We cannot do this alone and are committed to working with care users, providers, and other partners to deliver and build on these plans.

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