Disabled people have told a House of Lords committee that the social care system needs to enable those who need support to “live an ordinary life”.
Sue Bott, Andy McCabe and Tricia Nicoll were giving evidence to the Lords social care committee as part of its inquiry into adult social care.
Bott, a former deputy chief executive of Disability Rights UK, told members of the committee on Monday: “I just want to get on and live my life like other people and so I need that assistance to be able to do that and I think that’s what social care should really be about.
“It’s about enabling us all to fulfil our ambitions and what we want to do in everyday life.”
She said that what stood in the way of that was the “tick box” approach to social care, “rather than starting with you as a person and what is it you want to achieve in your everyday life”.
Bott spoke of her time running Shropshire Centre for Inclusive Living, which had demonstrated the importance of involving disabled people in designing services right from the start.
She said: “We set those services up ourselves… it is such a dynamic process to involve the people who are going to use services, benefit from services, throughout the process right from beginning to end, and it was really helpful because then we got the services that we really wanted.
“Disabled people, we really are our best problem-solvers, we are excellent at it, because we are living the life, and we know what works for us.”
McCabe told the committee that he was always concerned about contacting his council’s social care department because of a fear that it would cut his support package.
He said that the care charges he needs to pay limit his life, and that if he was earning more money than he does, and was in full-time work, he would be paying less in care charges.
He said: “So that financially limits my life as well and takes away choice and control, which to me feels fundamentally wrong.”
He said that the financial pressures facing local authorities act to pull power away from service-users.
He said: “If there was much more money, I think… the people that need support would be listened to far more and I think that is probably the fundamental limiting issue.”
Nicoll told peers that the social care system needed to start by focusing on a person’s “aspiration and ambition”.
She said: “That’s where all of us start from in ordinary lives and yet it’s the last place that social care starts from. It’s actually the opposite to where social care starts from.
“We have got to stop thinking about services and support and [start] thinking about the tools that we need to get whatever a good life would look like.
“Everybody now coming out of a pandemic can really understand that idea of just wanting life to be a bit ordinary, and most of us just want a really, really ordinary life.”
Picture: (From left to right) Sue Bott, Andy McCabe and Tricia Nicoll giving evidence
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