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Care: even the image I’ve been using emphasises the impossibility of social distancing in this context.

The United Kingdom is the fifth- or sixth-richest nation in the world; we should be able to afford to handle Covid-19 while still giving the best-quality care to those who need it. But we don’t.

The reason?

Conservative government.

A study by the Research Institute for Disabled Consumers shows 50% of disabled people with care support needs surveyed are no longer receiving health or personal care visits to their home as councils struggle under the weight of the pandemic.

An estimated 4.5 million people have been forced to fill in the gap as unpaid carers for loved ones while the state pulls back.

Reduced support services, and paid care workers isolating or left without personal protective equipment, have created a perfect storm of skeletal care on top of a decade of underfunding and staff shortages before the pandemic hit.

As the coronavirus outbreak began in March, the government passed controversial emergency legislation that freed councils of many of their duties under the Care Act 2014 – making it legal to no longer “meet the needs” of someone assessed as eligible for support.

The Guardian has spoken to a dozen disabled people and carers who have lost their social care during the pandemic: from parents of disabled children who have injured their backs after having all care and respite cancelled, to those who are shielding due to being high risk but have no one to shop for food because their carer is off sick.

Bruises cover Julie Sharp’s back and thighs. The 34-year-old, who has autism and uses a wheelchair, is due to celebrate her ninth wedding anniversary. Her husband, Sam, 33, who has severe anxiety and autism, shares Julie’s love of musical theatre. They also share a social care package: six hours with a carer a day to help them cook, wash, clean and leave their flat in Rotherham.

But the couple, like many disabled people who rely on social care, have had their support abruptly pulled during the coronavirus lockdown. Carer hours have become two phone calls – a voice that checks in “to see if we’re OK”.

Source: A phone call can’t make tea: how UK’s lack of social care is hitting disabled people in lockdown | Society | The Guardian

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