New report highlights critical role of social care in the lives of disabled people

With 2012 set to be a pivotal year for social care, a national disability charity is launching a groundbreaking report today (11th January) looking at the views of disabled people and their families on why access to good support is so vital.

Through firsthand accounts, Life Support, a report produced by United Response’s Campaigns Panel, brings a human face to the current debate on social care funding by highlighting the difference that social care makes to the daily lives of people with learning disabilities.

In the report people supported by United Response share their views on what good support looks like, how support could be improved for disabled people, and their hopes and fears for the future – with hate crime and a lack of support for those with lower support needs being raised as key areas of concern. One member of the campaigns panel said: “Having the right support has allowed me to do so many new things. But there are lots of people who don’t get help. I want everyone to get the right kind of support for them.”

Family members also contributed to the report and share their views on the current social care system and how it impacts on the lives of their family members. As one parent states, “…the support that my son receives makes the difference between just a daily 'existence' and instead grants him the opportunity to participate in his own wholly fulfilling and useful life."

The report also includes an overview of support over the last 40 years, alongside an afterword on the report written by leading social care expert and author of An Ordinary Life, David Towell.

Speaking about Life Support, Su Sayer, Chief Executive of United Response, said:

“Over the last 40 years, we have seen remarkable changes in the life experiences of disabled people. Thanks to the progress that has been made in health and social care, people are living longer and more independent lives, but that also means that the demand for social care is growing daily. This year, parties across the political spectrum will be faced with the unenviable, yet vital, task of rebuilding a social care system which is buckling under the weight of increased demand and limited resources.

“The Life Support report shows just how crucial social care is to people’s daily lives. For some people it means being able to complete basic but essential; tasks, such as washing, cooking, shopping and living with dignity. For others it means being able to develop independence and contribute meaningfully to society through employment or volunteering.

“What is clear is that without this vital support many people would simply be trapped in their homes struggling with loneliness and deteriorating physical and mental health. With a White Paper on social care expected in the spring, 2012 presents us with an opportunity to reform our social care system and make it work not only for those that rely on it now, but for the many who will need it in the future. Dilnot's recommendations alone will not do enough to improve support for disabled people, but they are an essential first step. There is a cost in the short term, but we stand to lose more if we don't act.”

To find out more about the Life Support report and to download the full report, along with an easy read version, go to