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2009 Retired Members' Conference
23 June 2009
Carried as Amended

Conference believes that nothing represents more potently the way in which our society values its elderly citizens than home – or domiciliary – care services. They are the point at which the state – literally – enters the private household to ensure the well-being and health of its most vulnerable citizens.

However, councils are faced with squaring an impossible circle. They must deliver personalised care and support to a growing population within existing funding levels and generate continuing efficiency savings. This has led to a focus on trying to use cash for care schemes (direct payments, personal budgets, individual budgets) as a means of personalising care services and saving money.

Conference notes that UNISON supports the principle that everyone should have as much independence and control over their own care and support arrangements as is right for them. However the current funding gap in social care means that the personalisation policy is likely to over-promise and under-deliver, just as care in the community did before it.

Conference recognises that UNISON members working in social care believe in working alongside service users to achieve the best quality of life for each individual. Unfortunately, in recent years their efforts have been stifled by bureaucracy, mass privatisation and ever tighter rationing of care.

Conference further believes that councils have a responsibility to consider all the implications for local people of any changes they make to the way in which care and support are delivered. That is why there is concern at the development of a tick-box approach to personalisation, driven by performance targets which only measure crude numbers signed up.

Conference therefore requests that the National Retired Members’ Committee work with UNISON’s Local Government Service Group to:

i.Raise public awareness of the challenges and choices facing home care users, their families and the workforce – particularly within a future that threatens severe cuts in public expenditure;

ii.Engage with unpaid carers – and those they care for – to identify unmet need and campaign for proper recognition of their contribution and more and better respite services;

iii.Engage with the UK administrations alongside service users, to ensure adequate funding and appropriate responses to the challenges facing the home care service and its workforce.