A new paper by Peter Beresford shares the results of a survey executed in November 2011, that was undertaken by Shaping Our Lives (a national network of service users). The project received financial support from Joseph Rowntree Foundation as a part of its commitment to ensure the voices of service users are heard in national debates on social care reform.

While the sample size was small (27 people) the respondents represent a diverse range of independent adult social care service users from different areas in England.

The consultation covered the six issues identified by the government last fall including quality of support, personalisation and choice, prevention and early intervention, service integration, care market challenges and funding of social care. Participants felt that the current system is patchy, faces strong pressures, and is unsuited to deliver quality support despite the commitment of workers. Additionally, they perceived a threat from reduced public spending and inadequate support infrastructure. Many were strongly opposed to privatisation, citing unfavourable treatment of disabled people by insurers as cause for concern. People also wanted to report the damaging effects of reductions in services and support. They felt the debates about welfare reform is having a corrosive effect, stereotyping disabled people as” scroungers’ or ‘a drain on society’. This was creating anxiety and despair, with people feeling scared and insecure.

JRF’s position on the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations differs from the views expressed through the survey. JRF strongly supports the Dilnot proposals as a road map to reform social care funding. JRF also supports the development and piloting of a new equity release product for ‘cash-poor, asset-rich’ older home-owners so they can improve their quality of life. Although JRF has a different view on how funding should be reformed, much of  their wider evidence chimes well with other views expressed. JRF shares the conviction that those who use care and support need to be involved in transforming social care.

Photo courtesy garryknight.