New research published today warns that social care for disabled people is chronically underfunded, with some forced to sleep in their clothes or left waiting up to fourteen hours to use a toilet.
Research by the charity Scope found that severe underfunding has meant that disabled people, who rely on social care for their independence, are often left hungry and isolated from the rest of society.
Disabled people represent a third of all social care users, but more than half struggle to get the vital care they need. According to the research, only 18% are given the right support package to meet their basic care needs.
Social care is vital in providing support for Britain’s disabled people, enabling them to live as independently as possible and participate fully in society. However, 55% of the 500 disabled people surveyed by Scope said social care “never supports their independence”.
With the right level of support, many disabled people can continue to work, learn and socialise with friends and family. 79% of social care users who participated in the survey agreed with this.
However, Scope found that social care packages for 83% of disabled people do not include enough hours, and too few are given enough choice or control over the type of care they receive – 41% said they get no choice or control whatsoever.
Worryingly, one in three (33%) users expect social care services to worsen over the next five years, while 10% fear they may lose support entirely.
The UK Government controversially scrapped the Independent Living Fund (ILF) in July 2015, devolving responsibility for supporting ILF users to local authorities in England and devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Disability rights campaigners fear the changes will lead to a decline in social care services for disabled people. 32% of social care users are not getting the standard of care agreed in their care plans.
Co-founder on the campaign group Disabled People Against Cuts, Debbie Jolly, told the Morning Star: “Disabled people’s basic human rights and dignity are being removed to leave them in dangerous and life-threatening situations.
“The closure of the independent living fund in June was supposedly done to avoid any postcode lottery.
“But we knew people were being transferred from a system that worked to one that is not just crumbling, but has reached dangerous levels of life-threatening neglect and crisis.”
The report includes a number of personal stories from social care users, many of whom have noticed that funding has been cut and that the amount of care they receive is falling.
Glynis, a social care user from the East Of England, said: “I just get such a small care package, and I’ve been fighting for it and I still can’t get past 8 hours a week.
“I’m just fed up with constantly trying to get the social worker to see about independent living and being isolated indoors, that I can’t actually have a care package that suits my needs.”
Alex, 22, from Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “My first plan was put in place when I was 19. I am now 22 and the local authority don’t accept that my needs have changed, even though my assessment indicates otherwise, and will not support me in building up my support and skills so that I can ultimately move to supported living.
“I cannot move forward with my life without more support.”
Others commented on a lack in flexibility over their care plans. One disabled person from the South East said: “I have found that my personal health is better as they help me with personal care and cooking food, and that is making me feel able to do more, but I have found I get no choice to do what I want now.
“If I want to go out for the day I am not allowed to because there is no flexibility for the care to come later or do tasks that should have been done that day at a later date.
“I have become a prisoner in my own home.”
Michelle from the South West added: “The rules now have taken away the little freedom I had. There are too many rules and no one seems to know the same set.”
Scope is calling on the Chancellor George Osborne to invest in social care in the upcoming spending review, later this month. The charity says that £6 billion saved from postponing the cap on how much people pay towards their care should be used to help end the “social care crisis”.
Scope chief executive Mark Atkinson said: “Our findings show the horrific consequences that disabled people face as a result of our collapsing social care system.
“The social care system is crumbling under severe financial pressure and this is set to intensify when the spending review further reduces the funds available to cash-strapped councils.”