The Tories betray wilful ignorance in refusing to acknowledge that some adults need support all their lives – asking them to pay care costs is wrong
Much has been said about the Conservative manifesto pledges on social care and Theresa May’s subsequent U-turn, but one issue that has so far escaped scrutiny is the Tories’ strange assumption that social care is all about older people. This is despite the fact that around a third of those who need social care services are of working age [pdf].
Social care affects all adults who need support because of a disability or long-term health condition. This might include a learning disability, a physical disability or severe and enduring mental ill-health. The failure of the Conservative manifesto to acknowledge any of this gives the impression of a party that is wilfully ignorant of the nature of adult social care and its beneficiaries.
Related: The ‘dementia tax’ mess shows how little May thinks of disabled people | Frances Ryan
Related: Forget money – we need to rethink what social care should look like
Research suggests children exposed to neglect or abuse suffer poor health as adults and die sooner. We need to address the causes, not treat the symptoms
Our childhood stays with us throughout our lives. We know this intuitively, from the shiver that can accompany memories of an upsetting event from our early years even into adulthood. But it is also true in a much deeper way.
The Adverse Childhood Experience (Ace) study, carried out in the US in the 1990s, found that children exposed to serious neglect, abuse or household dysfunction were at significantly greater risk of a litany of poor health and social outcomes, ranging from heart disease, liver disease and sexually transmitted diseases to depression, suicide attempts and intimate partner violence. Most starkly, people with a high score on the Ace scale died on average nearly 20 years earlier [pdf] than their counterparts who reported no childhood adversity.
Related: Why secure early bonding is essential for babies
If the right questions are not being asked, we cannot expect to find the right answers
Related: How childhood stress can knock 20 years off your life
Small community organisations and social enterprises could form an efficient, cost-effective support system for adults
An unexpected effect of cuts to council budgets, and the ensuing crisis in support services for adults and older people, is that the public is starting to understand for the first time what social care for adults actually is. The challenge now is for us to imagine what it could be.
In March, the government announced a green paper in response to the overwhelming evidence that the way we support older and disabled people is neither working nor affordable. Fewer people are getting support, care providers are leaving the sector and handing back contracts to councils, and hospitals are filling up with older people who have no medical reason to be there.
Related: Social care green paper is an opportunity too important to be missed | Peter Beresford
Related: How we can start a social care revolution in seven easy steps | Katie Johnston