Stephen Vause cared for and supported in a Royal Star & Garter care home. Royal Star & Garter is a NCF member that provides loving, compassionate care to veterans and their partners living with disability or dementia.
The Queen’s Speech 2021 afforded the reform of social care only nine tiny words. This was the only acknowledgement given to a sector that impacts the lives of millions of people, and has been on the promise end of reform from multiple governments for the best part of thirty years.
Deeply frustrated by the minimal focus on social care in the Queen’s Speech, the National Care Forum – the leading association for not for profit care providers – made a call out to those who work in the sector, receive care and support, relatives and friends, providers, commissioners, local government, parliamentarians and the wider public to find out what they would have said about how important social care was – if they only had 9 words.
The response to the #9wordsforcare call out was incredible. In 48-hours, we received over 400 submissions and hundreds more who engaged and commented on the ambition for social care. The responses were angry, inspiring, emotional, sardonic, symbolic and most of all they showed that people cared.
‘We do not want proposals, we need action.’
‘Social care needs total reform not sticking plaster solutions.’
‘Ambitious reform backed by appropriate investment is needed now.’
‘Sustainable and equal access to care and support services.’
‘9 words said a lot, neglecting #care must stop.’
The responses showed that social care reform really matters to people, and that they want it to really matter to those in power. Stories from across our membership demonstrate how much of a lifeline families and individuals rely on social care.
Rifleman Stephen Vause enlisted into the Army in 2006. Stephen was deployed in 2007, initially to Kuwait, then Iraq. He was 19 when he was wounded by a mortar bomb blast. Stephen’s disability means that he is supported in a residential care home, has limited mobility and speech, but he is adept at using a tablet to communicate or simply a swift thumbs up or down.
Alan Heath’s wife of 57 years, Judi, slipped a note into his suitcase the night before he moved into his care home, asking staff to look after “the love of her life” and care for him like she would. Judi said: “We’ve been together since 1959 – it’s a long time and suddenly I wasn’t caring for him… that was really hard. So the night before he went to the care home I wrote a letter and put it in his suitcase. It was for the staff, and I hoped they’d find it when putting away Alan’s clothes. I wrote that Alan was the love of my life, and to please look after him. And they have.”
Emma Castleton whose 17-year-old son has severe to profound learning disabilities explains: “My son will never live or work independently, and he’s got two more years left in school. And what comes after that is very unclear. There is no pathways, the budgets for support are not enough, and it’s very confusing. We’re trying to work through what I understand is huge amounts of paperwork, which all has to be completed for when he turns 18 to find the right environment for him to be. The uncertainty and difficulty in navigating the system is heart breaking”.
Vic Rayner, Chief Executive of the National Care Forum says:
“For Stephen, Judi and Emma social care reform is so much more than rhetoric or bureaucracy, it will absolutely change their lives and that of their families. The underlying message is clearly that 9 words was definitely not enough, and seriously undermines the much repeated commitment that this government will ‘fix social care’. If all the government is going to allocate to social care is 9 words – there are literally hundreds and hundreds of alternative 9 words which have made much more impact and given people a sense of hope, purpose and ambition for the future. Social care affects people and in the words of the people responding to our call ‘lack of action has impact on people and lives’.”