The Coronavirus Bill and the Care Act

Posted on: March 25, 2020

by Neil Taylor

A real test of a society’s values is the commitment it has to protecting and supporting the most vulnerable at a time of real crisis. It is clear to most people that, by instructing people to stay at home in order to reduce the spread of Coronavirus, the Government’s strategy is to ensure the NHS can cope with the exponential escalation in demand for its services. The 1.5 million staff that work in social care will also play an essential role in combating the enormous challenges we face, not least in responding to the speed with which people who continue to be sick will be discharged from hospital but equally important supporting increasingly isolated vulnerable people. We may be worrying about people’s physical health, however the long term impact on people’s mental health is more disturbing.

There are still many people in our communities who still do not understand the implications of not taking heed of all the guidance we have been receiving. So just imagine how difficult it is for people with learning disabilities and those with autistic spectrum disorders to make sense of the complete disruption this is having on their lives. Just imagine the pressure this places on families, and in particular elderly vulnerable parents themselves, to take care of their children for potentially a long period of time. We may be able to tell children not to visit their parents because it’s in their interest not to do so, but try telling parents to avoid looking after your vulnerable child.

While the positive intent behind the Coronavirus Bill may be to reduce the bureaucracy required to administer social care, the unintended (or intended?) consequence of suspending Local Authority obligations under the Care Act for the rights of disabled people could be serious. At a time when our ability to scrutinise how support and care is provided is significantly compromised e.g. CQC inspections and the capacity of Local Authorities to provide oversight is reduced and the risk of abuse is far greater, we must do everything to safeguard the interests of people we support. It will be incumbent upon us at Langdon and across the social care sector to develop new ways of working so that can ensure we mitigate the increased levels of risk to people’s safety and liberty at a time when we have much less physical access.

That is why at Langdon we will be doing everything to ensure we enthusiastically promote the ethical framework that the Government has issued for adult social care, in the context of our commitment to our own values of caring, responsive, empowering, integrity and excellence.

It is important to remember that effective social care will make our communities stronger and more resilient.