What do we think of when we hear the words “social care”? The crisis of funding may finally have propelled the issue on to the political agenda, but the term itself is still oddly obscure. To those who need it, social care essentially means a lifeline: a care worker to help you shower in the morning or cook a hot meal at night.
Nationally, while it’s mainly older people who rely on the system, disabled people represent a third of all social care users. That equates to around 400,000 working-age disabled people in England alone. But listen to ministers such as David Mowat MP argue that family members need to take responsibility for looking after elderly relatives, or read much of the recent media coverage, and it would be easy to think that disabled people were either token recipients or part of a different system altogether.
The word “disabled” is rarely used in news coverage, and the accompanying stock images routinely depict frailty and grey hair. Meanwhile, politicians who now regularly refer to “the elderly” surviving on 15-minute care slots are largely silent when it comes to disabled people or those with chronic illnesses.
In the House of Commons, Theresa May pledged to ensure people would receive the care they needed in old age – forgetting those with disabilities who rely on the service for decades of their lives. While older people are seen by politicians as reliable voters to be courted, disabled people hold such insignificance they do not even…