David Blunkett: The Care Bill must reflect the needs of all deafblind people

Social care isn’t just about personal care, it’s about having support to hold down a job

Share

All of us rely on our senses to understand the world. Sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell enable us to assess our environment and make decisions. They are our guides to avoid danger and allow us to go about our day to day lives. Being without one of these senses can be challenging and being without two can make life extremely difficult.

From navigating public transport and finding a suitable job to preparing meals and being able to go and meet your MP, being deafblind can make what seem like everyday tasks a real challenge. There are around 250,000 people in the UK today who are deafblind. This means people who have both sight and hearing loss to varying degrees. Some people are completely deaf and blind whilst others will have some useful sight and hearing. This number is on the increase as the population ages. However, many people are also born deafblind as a result of genetic conditions such as CHARGE Syndrome or as a result of being born prematurely.

Today I met with a group of deafblind people who had come to Parliament to meet with their local MP to share their experiences of social care and to talk about the Care Bill. They came from all walks of life; a man unable to work due to a lack of social care, a former paralympian, some were older people unable to fund any support for themselves and others were parents of grown-up deafblind children. The people I met today also had a diverse range of communication needs. Some people were able to hear what I was saying, others used sign language interpreters and some hand on hand sign language. It was both heartening to hear of people’s achievements and the way they have adapted to their disability yet frustrating to hear tales of inadequate provision of social care preventing some people from living their lives to the full.

It is universally accepted that the adult care system is not sustainable, but over the coming months my colleagues and I have an opportunity to change that. The Care Bill will shortly be passed over to the House of Commons and MPs of all parties should take this opportunity to get this right for the future. The level of social care support that deafblind people are getting is being cut and many councils, under enormous financial strain, have been upping the bar for eligibility, with many setting the threshold at a higher level than ever before. This means that many deafblind people who have a lower level of need, perhaps they need one or two hours of social care support a week to help fill out forms or for a communicator guide to go shopping with them, are falling through the net.

Today the deafblind people meeting their MPs came to deliver a very clear message: social care must be available to all of us that need it. Social care isn’t just about personal care, it’s about having the right amount of support so that you can hold down a job, be part of your local community and crucially as shown by today’s event; be part of the democratic system.

Today’s event was organised by national deafblind charity Sense who provide a wide range of services for deafblind people. They also campaign on issues affecting them and encourage deafblind people to find their voice and become activists on the issues that matter to them. Democracy isn’t just about going along to vote every five years, it’s about having a voice and having the opportunity to make it heard and for many deafblind people the key to this is adequate social care provision.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Recruitment Genius: Cleaner / Caretaker / Storeman

£15500 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has become available...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Sales - SaaS B2B

£60000 - £120000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This conference call startup i...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital and print design a...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A pack of seagulls squabble over discarded food left on the beach at St Ives on July 28, 2015  

Number of urban seagulls in Britain nearly quadruples: Hide food and avoid chicks to stay in gulls’ good books

Tom Bawden
 

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms