We were determined that 2017 was not going to be another year wasted by ducking the crisis in social care. We sent an open letter to the Prime Minister calling on her to establish a cross-party process involving MPs from all parties to find a sustainable solution to the problems in health and social care funding. 75 other organisations joined our call, including the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Care England, Royal College of GPs, Leonard Cheshire Disability, Marie Curie and RNIB.
Our campaigners shared their experiences of care homes with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA – the government’s consumer watchdog) to inform their review of the care home market. As Independent Age campaigners had pushed for this review the year previously, it was only fitting that their stories be included as evidence.
After consistent pressure from campaigners, the Government announced an extra £2 billion over 3 years for social care in their Spring Budget. They also promised to lay out their future plans for social care in a Green Paper.
We released our 8 care home quality indicators, developed as part of a project with Healthwatch Camden, to help people make better choices about their care home.
Theresa May sprang a surprise General Election. Independent Age drew up a manifesto and over 800 campaigners shared it with their local parliamentary candidates. They made sure that their new MPs knew that issues affecting older people should take top priority.
During Carers Week, we joined charities including Carers UK, Macmillan and the MS Society to celebrate carers and draw attention to the challenges they face. We met with MPs to talk about how the needs of carers must be integral to any new social care plans.
By July, we were concerned that the promises made earlier in the year were being forgotten. Over 38,000 people signed our petition asking Theresa May not to forget about the 1.2 million who lived without their basic care needs met.
In August, we took it up a notch. We were fed up waiting on the green paper so we launched another petition asking for the Government to commit to a date to publish their plans for social care.
We asked campaigners with experience of the care home system to help shape the new campaign we were developing. Their insight made sure our campaign stayed focused on what really matters to care home residents and their families.
Our campaign for improved care home choice, Better Choices Better Care, launched. Over 2,000 people emailed their MP, asking them to work with their local Healthwatch to introduce our 8 care home quality indicators. We reached 96% of relevant MPs and so far we know five Healthwatch organisations are in the process of implementing our indicators.
After our petition gained over 10,000 signatures, the Government finally announced that they would commit to publishing the social care green paper by summer 2018.
The CMA publish their review into the care home market. Their findings bolstered the point we were already making in our campaign - that care home residents are ill-served by an underfunded and confusing system. The good news is that the CMA has set a number of achievable goals that should improve care home experiences.
As you can see, it’s been a busy year! Nevertheless, we believe that we can be even more ambitious next year. Find out what we’d like to see in 2018 in my next blog.