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Growing Old: Social Care Crisis - Tonight

Every year more than 1.8 million people approach our local councils for adult social care support. These services over the years have been subject to cuts and repeated underfunding has now taken a toll on the social care system, leading to what has now been described as a crisis point.

Richard Bacon investigates how the government can solve the problem once and for all and meets those who are being directly affected by the cuts.

Jan Wright from Norfolk has a 23 year old son Owen who was born with a condition called global developmental delay. He has the mental age of an 18 month old and also has brittle bone disease meaning he needs 24 hour care. Owen has seen many cuts to the services he accesses and without these activities his behaviour will gradually deteriorate. Unfortunately for Owen there’s a possibility that his care charges will be on the increase again next year.

These cuts may mean Owen's family cannot take him to the activities that help his mental and physical health. Credit: ITV / Tonight

“...it feels to us like the council are trying to claw back some money but they’re taking it off the wrong people. How on earth can they justify taking 30% of income from someone like Owen who is one of the most vulnerable and the most weak in society?”

– Jan Wright

The last person tasked with undertaking a major review of social care was Sir Andrew Dilnot. He reported back to the then coalition government eight years ago and whilst his recommendations for reform were well received he is still waiting for the changes to be made.

“It is frustrating that nothing has happened and that there are people facing really difficult circumstances. This could affect any of us and at the moment all we can do is shut our eyes, standing in the middle of the road with a potential lorry of social care driving towards us and hope the lorry stops before it hits us.”

– Sir Andrew Dilnot, CBE

As things stand, in England if you have savings between just over 14,000 and just over 23,000 pounds your local council will contribute to part of your care costs. Any less and the council pays for your care, any more and you must fund it yourself, apart from care provided by a registered NHS nurse. North of the border however personal care - is free, no matter how much money you have and this is as a result of the tireless campaigning by Amanda Kopel.

Amanda’s husband Frank had a successful career as a footballer playing for Manchester United alongside George Best. Just before his 60th birthday Frank was diagnosed with vascular dementia and his health deteriorated rapidly, eventually Amanda needed to have carers come into the home. As Frank was under 65, and they had some savings, the Kopels were charged for this.

Amanda and her husband Frank, who died in 2014.

“Frankie didn’t play in the days of you know these divas nowadays. So, we didn’t have a lot of savings and that what we did have was going on the bills and the personal care charges which was going into hundreds of pounds.”

– Amanda Kopel

In order to raise money for his care Amanda and Frank made the difficult decision- to sell some of his football memorabilia, including his most prized possession: his Manchester United blazer. Their experience left Amanda determined to try to help others.

“I did not want anybody else to go through what Frankie and I had gone through and the only way to do that was to shout loud enough... and I did start shouting.”

– Amanda Kopel

Amanda campaigned for years to get the law changed, and in April of this year she finally got her wish. Now in Scotland you can apply for free personal care in your home, no matter what your age. It’s called Frank’s Law.

So will our government follow suit? Only this week the Labour party pledged to bring in free personal care for the over 65’s. As for Boris Johnson’s plans- the government is remaining tight lipped for now. The Department for Health and Social Care told us they’ll be set out “in due course”.

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