A blog from Gary Bourlet, Membership and Engagement Lead and self advocate
Yesterday Gillian Keegan, the Minister of State for Care and Mental Health launched the new Health and Social Care White Paper in the House of Commons.
It is called ‘ People at the Heart of Care: Adult Social Care Reform White Paper.’
The White Paper starts with 3 objectives.
1. People have choice, control, and support to live independent lives.
2. People can access outstanding quality and tailored care and support.
3. People find adult social care fair and accessible
It is great that the White Paper starts with these 3 points as the 10 year vision.
This is the language we, and lots of others, use to think and talk about social care and the way we want to live our lives.
It feels like the government has listened.
And what matters to us has been heard.
But then when I went to read the White Paper, I found there is no easy read version.
No accessible formats.
Despite it being a White Paper for and about people with disabilities and long term conditions.
So I have had to rely on conversations with team members to find out more about what is in the White Paper.
It feels like there are lots of positives.
Lots of opportunities to work together to build on what the White paper says.
A chance to really make a difference.
A lot of what is in the White Paper at the moment is just principles.
And gives amounts of money to different things.
Like everyone, we need to see the detail.
We need to see that the money will be well spent on the things that matter.
And understand what that looks like and how it will be delivered.
For some things we just need to see laws and policies that are already in place being acted on.
Things like Human Rights, Accessible Information Standard, Building the Right Support.
One thing that stood out for me is that there is not very much about people with learning disabilities.
Yet people with learning disabilities have long been disadvantaged on many levels.
And the pandemic has made that worse.
Too many of us die too young of health conditions that are treatable.
Too many of us have not been able to choose where we live or who we live with.
Too many of us have found it almost impossible to get paid work.
Too many of us have found ourselves locked up in ATUs and secure hospitals because there is not enough of the right support in the community.
Members and partners have already done a lot of thinking and a lot of work on these things.
We shared some of this work with the Department of Health and Social Care and Ministers when they were thinking about this White Paper.
We look forward to working with the government to co-produce the next steps.
With people with lived experience at the heart of the work.
But what we can’t forget is the urgent need to do something about social care and people’s support right now.
The Rep Body Co Chairs talked about this when the ADASS snap survey came out earlier this week.
We have already lost too many people with learning disabilities during this pandemic.
We urge the government to act now to make sure we don’t just deliver on the 10 year vision, but on what we all so urgently need in the here and now this winter.