#CareBill: this film shows the daily reality of a severely disabled person’s care
Today, the Care Bill has its second reading in parliament - at a time when chronic underfunding and cuts to council social care budgets have left the care system in crisis and many disabled and elderly people without the support they need.
Recently, we made this film with the Daily Mirror and Moore Lavan films. It follows Mary Laver, who is severely disabled, through her life for 24 hours. She wanted to make the film to show people what the round-the-clock care that she needs to live in her own home looks like. Mary is almost entirely unable to move her arms, hands or legs. She needs carers to cook for her, feed her, shower her and to take her to the toilet.
Mary's local council pays for some of her care, but can't afford to pay for her whole care package - an issue that many councils are dealing with as cuts to local government funding take a massive toll. Mary gets extra money from the Independent Living Fund to top up her council care payments. Without that money, she'd rely entirely on council funding for her care, which means that her care support hours would be reduced to dangerously low levels. The government tried to close the Independent Living Fund recently - a decision which was overturned in the courts. That was a victory, but it's only an interim one. The government will not say what its future plans for the fund are.
We've talked to people whose care support hours have already been reduced to worryingly low levels. Margaret Cropper, who lives in Lancashire, has cerebral palsy and has been assessed as having "substantial" care needs by her council. She told us that she has to stay in bed on weekends, because her care hours don't stretch to cover Saturdays and Sundays. This Cheshire woman, Lynda, has severe arthritis. She'd run out of care hours on the morning we visited. She was alone, unwell and had been left to lie on her bed next to a sick bucket, because she'd been vomiting all morning and still felt sick – but her carer couldn't stay with her, because her hours were finished and her carer had to move on to another job. Lynda had wanted to apply for Independent Living Fund money to pay for more care hours, but the ILF was closed to new applicants in 2010. That means she has to make do with the hours that her council can afford to pay for.
This recent LSE study shows that more than half a million people who would have received care five years ago have been cut completely out of the care system. Our own research last year showed that more than 7,000 disabled and elderly people lost some or all of their state-funded support after councils changed eligibility rules. Cuts to social care continue across councils: our databases are full of examples and we'll be adding more next year as council budgets and cuts are confirmed.
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