This week’s blog from our General Election Series is a guest post from Mary, a campaigner from Norfolk, who came to our General Election Rally in London on Tuesday 24 March.
With the Care Act 2014 coming into force on the first of April, we spoke to Mary, from Norfolk, about how the issues of health and social care dominated Age UK General Election rally on 24 March.
‘Last week, thanks to the efforts of Age UK, and along with 250 other representatives of our older population, I was given the opportunity to both listen to and question senior politicians, including David Cameron, on their plans for older people’s services, should they be elected.
‘Other than applauding speakers on the triple lock, highlighting the need to retain universal benefits such as the bus pass, and voicing regret that today’s pensioners will not benefit from the new state pension, the bulk of the day’s discussions undoubtedly focussed on care and the NHS.
‘We heard people in the audience voice their concern about the training, pay and working conditions of front line care staff. They also saw 15 minute care visits and no travel expenses as not being conducive to good care for older people.
‘In placing contracts with private companies to fill staffing gaps, hospitals were seen by the audience to be increasing costs, while reducing quality. One older person spoke of a hospital’s loss of continuity of care and teambuilding from using agency staff, saying we were losing good NHS trained nurses to the higher paid private sector. Couldn’t the Government stop this from happening?
‘Fortunate in being chosen by Mr Cameron for his first question, I was able to represent the needs of unpaid carers, particularly those trapped between having their children later in life and caring for a parent, and others who simply do not recognise themselves as carers and miss out on resources and support.
‘The first stage of the Government’s Care Act came into force last Wednesday, 1 April, making our opportunity to have our say on social care particularly timely. I hope the changes being brought in will have a positive effect- but many charities and groups have concerns about the funding behind these proposals.
‘Having been given the opportunity to question those in power and build networks with likeminded people, the day for me was both invigorating and meaningful.
‘The question remains, however, about what it meant to those in power. Will our senior politicians listen to the true experts? Will they value older people? Will we be seen as a drain on resources or given our true place in society and rewarded for the contribution we continue to make?
‘Like many others, I await the changes and improvements that will see our Government and society both value and improve the lives of our older generation.’