Care of older people

Back to all Motions

2015 National Delegate Conference
11 February 2015
Carried as Amended

Conference supports integrating health and social care services providing the principal aim of doing so is to improve the quality of services particularly for older people. Conference believes that services can only be successfully integrated if social care is made, like health, free at the point of need.

Conference therefore welcomes:

1)The Labour Party’s policy ‘Whole Person Care’ to integrate the two services in England;

2)Reports that the Labour Party is considering making social care in England free at the point of need.

However, Conference remains concerned that:

a)The principal aim driving the present government’s approach to integration is not service quality but that pooling budgets will save money and its analysis that integration is quite compatible with competition;

b)Labour has not so far rejected this approach, rather it too appears more concerned with the integration of budgets and organisations than of services and committed to a model where its proposed Health and Wellbeing Boards will commission services not provide them.

Conference reiterates UNISON’s view that public services are at their best when they are delivered directly by bodies which have been directly elected to do so and which remain accountable to the general public.

Conference therefore urges that integration be pursued as an anti-market measure and as an opportunity to:

i)Introduce free social care for older people;

ii)Rebuild the public sector in social care and defend health from privatisation;

iii)Defend and rebuild collective bargaining, level up terms and conditions and root out abusive employment practices like zero hours contracts.

Further, Conference believes it is vital that UNISON’s strategy is based on uniting the aims and values of the workforce with those of older people and other service users.

In addition, Conference note notes that millions of pounds annually are saved to the economy by the efforts of unpaid carers looking after parents or other relatives in their own homes, often on a 24/7 basis. The great majority of those receiving such care are elderly people, many with physical disabilities or mental illnesses such as dementia. The Carer’s Allowance (paid only if the carer does 35 hours a week or more) is £61.35 a week. Attendance Allowance of £54 or £81 a week is paid to disabled people over 65 in need of 24/7 care. This is “free Social Care” indeed!

Conference is appalled that what is a strenuous, physically and emotionally demanding job is not recognised as such and is rewarded at a level far below the National Minimum Wage.

Conference instructs the National Executive Council to:

A)Continue to bring together UNISON’s campaigns on integration and on free social care for older people;

B)Raise this matter with the relevant UNISON Service Group Executives and seek to ensure that, in discussions about integration, UNISON reflects the views both of UNISON members employed in health and social care and UNISON retired members who use the services;

C)Raise the issue with the National Pensioners’ Convention;

D)Publicise and report on progress to regions and branches through all appropriate communication channels, including the UNISON website, U Magazine, In-Focus and E-Focus;

E)Seek the backing of the whole union and other relevant bodies in mounting a major campaign aimed at improving payments and other help for carers so that our retired members and all other elderly people needing care can have their needs met without their carers being exploited.