Care (Older People)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:41 am on 6th September 2011.

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Photo of Alison McGovern Alison McGovern Labour, Wirral South 11:41 am, 6th September 2011

I agree. In a moment, I will talk about some of the problems that local authorities are currently facing. They have had bigger cuts than any part of Government in Whitehall. Although I wholeheartedly agree with what the hon. Gentleman said, it is a challenge to all of us to support local authorities in that prevention role.

The hon. Member for Newton Abbot rightly made the point that quality matters above all else. Some of the examples given by her and others were compelling in terms of the moral requirement on us all to stand up for the dignity of older people. I firmly believe that, when we hear examples such as the one just given, we know what is happening is wrong. I have heard examples from my constituents: for example, older people are told that a “breakfast” visit to get them up can take place anytime between 6 am and 11.30 am, regardless of their personal preference. That is not good enough and is an offence to somebody who prior to needing care was independent and perfectly capable of looking after themselves. We all know that instinctively.

The question is: how do we get from where we are to where we would like to be? I want briefly to make two points on the subject. First, I shall mention enforcement and some of the professional development issues. Leading on from that, I shall talk about the market for care provision and why there is an interesting and difficult problem that the Government will have to tackle regarding the market for providing care. I agree with many of the points made by the hon. Member for Newton Abbot about some of the anomalies surrounding enforcement. I repeat that local authorities are having to struggle with the fact that, if they were a Government Department, they would be experiencing the biggest cuts in Whitehall. That makes the job of having responsibility for the care of older people, which is a fixed cost, very difficult.