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Elderly 'robbed of dignity' by failing social services

Helen O’Brien

Helen O’Brien

The government is being urged to overhaul England's 'failing' social care system, which experts say is leaving 800,000 elderly people without basic care, 'robbed of dignity' 'lonely, isolated and at risk'. Helen O’Brien, Chief Executive, of Caritas Social Action Network is one of more than 60 representatives of charities and organisations who signed an open letter published in the Daily Telegraph urging the government to act now.

The letter follows:

Sir – As a society we face a growing care challenge. We should celebrate the fact that we are all living longer lives, particularly disabled people and those with long-term conditions. But the unavoidable challenge we face is how to support the increasing number of people who need care. It is a challenge which we are failing to meet – resulting in terrible examples of abuse and neglect in parts of the care system.

This comes at huge cost to the dignity and independence of older and disabled people, but also to our society, family life and the economy. An estimated 800,000 older people are being left without basic care – lonely, isolated and at risk. Others face losing their homes and savings because of soaring care bills.

Disabled people are unable get the support they need to live their lives independently and be part of society.

Businesses are losing increasing numbers of experienced staff who are forced to give up work to care for older or disabled relatives. These carers can then be pushed to breaking point, providing round-the- clock care. Our NHS is also paying the price, as a lack of support leads to avoidable hospital admissions and then keeps older and disabled in hospital beds because they cannot be cared for at home.

We have a duty as a nation to change this – but it requires political leadership.

This summer, the independent Dilnot Commission into Funding of Care and Support published its recommendations. In response, the Government has committed to publishing a White Paper on Social Care by April. With new cross-party talks on the future of care, we are closer than ever to reaching a new consensus.

We urge the Government and the other party leaders to seize this opportunity for urgent, fundamental and lasting reform: delivering a social care system which can provide the well-funded and high-quality care and support we would all expect for ourselves and our families.

Dr Roger Wicks
Director, Research, Policy & Government Relations, Action on Hearing Loss

Gary Fitzgerald
Chief Executive, Action on Elder Abuse

Jane Ashcroft
Chief Executive, Anchor

Jeremy Hughes
Chief Executive, Alzheimer's Society

Michelle Mitchell
Charity Director, Age UK

Otto Thoresen
Director General, Association of British Insurers

Rick Henderson
Chief Executive, Action for Advocacy

Caroline Waters
Director of People and Policy, BT plc; Chair, Employers for Carers

Dr Hamish Meldrum
Chairman, BMA Council

Hilton Dawson
Chief Executive, The British Association of Social Workers

Mark Ellerby
Managing Director, Bupa Care Services

Michael Adamson
Managing Director, British Red Cross

Mike Parsons
Founder and Chief Executive, Barchester Healthcare

Anne Roberts
Chief Executive, Crossroads Care

Baroness Campbell of Surbiton
Crossbench Peer

Baroness Meacher of Spitalfields
Crossbench Peer

Lord Low of Dalston
Crossbench Peer

Emily Holzhausen
Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Carers UK

Gavin Hayes
General Secretary, Compass

Gillian Guy
Chief Executive, Citizens Advice

Helen O’Brien
Chief Executive, Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN)

Mel Flogdell
Head of HR Policy, Centrica Plc

Professor Sue Yeandle
Director, Centre for International Research on Care, Labour & Equalities, University of Leeds

Martin Green
Chief Executive, English Community Care Association

Andrew Harrop
General Secretary, Fabian Society

Bruce Moore
Chief Executive, Hanover

Rachael Byrne
Executive Director, Care & Support, Home Group

Baroness Greengross
Chief Executive, ILC-UK

Janet Morrison
Chief Executive, Independent Age

Simon Morris
Chief Executive, Jewish Care

Alex Turner
Managing Director, Listawood Ltd

Anthea Sully
Director , Learning Disability Coalition

Terence Stokes
Chief Executive, Lasa

Ciarán Devane
Chief Executive, Macmillan Cancer Support

Dr Kirstine Knox
Chief Executive, Motor Neurone Disease Association

Imelda Redmond
Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Marie Curie Cancer Care

Mark Goldring
Chief Executive, Mencap

Roger Davies
CEO, Methodist Homes (MHA)

Simon Gillespie
Chief Executive, MS Society

Arlene Wilkie
Chief Executive, Neurological Alliance

Elaine Kerr
Chief Executive, Norwood

Eve Richardson
Chief Executive, National Palliative Care Council

Jeremy Taylor
Chief Executive, National Voices


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