A caring and wellbeing County
Our care system is in crisis.
The Covid pandemic has resulted in job losses with many families seeing a reduction in income, forced to eat into their savings or seek help with benefits and sometimes from foodbanks. Long periods of enforced isolation have impacted upon the physical and mental health and well-being of many with the long-term effects of the pandemic still to be fully assessed.
For some, the pandemic has suddenly and tragically deprived them of a family member and the loss of a dependent and the emotional support of a love one. Yet our resources for social care are woefully inadequate to meet the rising demand.
Our care homes have had high Covid infection rates, and the Council has cut support for 571 working-age adults and 1,779 older people, and some Suffolk Day Care Centres and other local services have disappeared following the closure of Age UK Suffolk.
Many more carers need practical support; carers have increasingly frail support networks, particularly vulnerable to breakdown at this time. Many are living lives of loneliness, poverty and quiet desperation.
We have a care crisis in Suffolk...
Our plan for Suffolk's care needs and carers will:-
• Identify Suffolk's hidden carers
The numbers of unpaid carers have risen dramatically during the pandemic, we estimate to over 100,000 of the population in Suffolk. We know some belong to Suffolk Family Carers, some register with their GP, and some claim Carers Allowance. Shockingly, most are not officially identified although the County relies on them to provide the bulk of social care unpaid. This Lib Dems proposal has already secured the Council's support*.
• Create a single confidential unified list of family carers in Suffolk* Working from the grassroots with parish councils and other Suffolk organisations and groups create a single register that will ensure help and support, vaccination and other initiatives can be efficiently targeted at these most invaluable and overworked members of our community
Liberal Democrats will also stand up for Carers by calling on the government to raise Carer's Allowance by £1,000 a year.
Supporting older people
Suffolk has around 5% more older people that the national average, and there is lots of evidence of loneliness and isolation in Suffolk's older population. The Liberal Democrat plan includes:
Funding social care properly
We desperately need a better funding deal for social care, properly integrated with the NHS and personalised to individual needs.
Authorise the use of the full 3% social care precept, unlocking the maximum available funding
Continue to campaign for a better model for funding social care
Support older people by paying attention to their needs and not "parking them"
In response to the closure of Age UK Suffolk, and resulting loss of services, we would work with national Age UK and other older people's charities to establish a new structure for supporting older people across the county
Ensuring all sheltered accommodation schemes have on-site warden support
Support for schemes to help older people connect digitally, eg "Grandpads"
Supporting children, young people and vulnerable adults
Children's and families, emotional health and mental well-being have been impacted by Covid, especially amongst families who have seen a loss of income. Yet despite the growing seriousness of child poverty and mental health issues, shockingly, the Council are reducing the number of Children's Centres in Suffolk from 38 to 17 full-time & 11 part-time Family Hubs. The Council are letting our young people down.
Liberal Democrats strategy for children and vulnerable adults will:
Extend free school meals during holidays and support for vulnerable families
End 'out of county' placements of young people and those with mental health needs
Ensure all schools in Suffolk have an accredited mental health worker
Supporting our voluntary organisations and local resilience groups
Deliver closer integration in both funding and support between children's and adult social services and NHS mental health
- Cuts to youth clubs and services have left only a handful of community-led youth groups throughout the county, whilst it may be difficult to replace what has been lost, the Council should look at options to co-commission services with the Police and Crime Commissioner.
*A Motion presented to Suffolk County Council by Woodbridge Liberal Democrat Councillor Caroline Page requesting that they support the establishment of a voluntary confidential data base of carers. The Motion was passed by members on March 17th 2021.