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I bumped into a woman at Labour Party Conference the other night (at the Big Care reception) who told me that individual budgets are the best thing since sliced bread, because they've helped her keep her libido under control. I was intrigued.
Individual budgets are where people who get social care support get an amount of money to choose how they are supported to live their life rather than somebody at the council making the decisions for you.
The woman I was speaking to has Parkinsons and apparently the medication she takes increases your urges to a level that needs controlling. That was startling enough in itself and I didn't probe on exactly how she used her indvidual budget to keep herself in check (I'm very shy), but I hoped she wasn't faced with an all or nothing choice - she didn't strike me as the celibate type.
But that's not the point - what it demonstrates is the power of putting people back in control of their lives. Controlling her sex life was just one of the things that she could now do to get around the effects of the disease and it meant that she felt more in control of the disease and her life. The same goes for people faced with any health challenges as they get older. Each of us should be able to get the help we need and what that help is will be different for all of us.
Individual budgets are a start for those who do have access to social care now, but there's a wider group of people out there who given the opportunity and the access to help and support with everyday activities could go from feeling stuck in their home to back in control of their lives and doing the things they want. That's the aim of WRVS' election challenge, we want to make Britain a great place to grow old and it will only be a great place if everyone in their 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond feel they can live the life they want.
That means reforming social care to remove the stigmas attached to it, ensuring everone has access and an entitlement to support when they need it, but ensure they have control over the help and services they receive. We've got to work with the politicians, other organisations and people in communities across the country to make it happen.
Posted by Paul
The party conference season's in full swing and all the major parties are vying with each other to pledge the biggest spending cuts.
Okay we're in financial do-do, but let's look a bit further forward guys. We will get out of the recession and the choices we make now will shape what Britain is like in the next ten, twenty years.
WRVS will be calling on the party faithful at Labour and Conservative conferences to sign up to four pledges that will help make Britain a great place to grow old. It's not just about money, it's about changing attitudes too. But cuts in the wrong place now could set us back decades - we're all getting older, let's make sure our political masters think about tomorrow not just a political win today.
What do you think?
Posted by Paul