Discussions regarding the future of care have focused heavily around the elderly. However disabled people are also at the heart of this matter, especially disabled students.
Over the past two years the NUS Disabled Students Committee has conducted research into personal care needs for students within Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE). Similar issues have also been highlighted by charities such as SKILL and Trailblazers.
The current care system, based on a post-code lottery, is failing disabled students. NUS FE research indicates that disabled students who need personal care continually re-apply for courses within their institution, acting as a form of social care.
NUS case studies gathered from HE indicate similar themes. When students leave their home residence to study, they often move from one Local Authority (LA) to another. Constant ‘personal care funding battles’ often arise between Social Services, LAs and universities leaving disabled students in difficult situations. In some cases disabled students are dissuaded from attending university by Social Services due to the expensive funding costs needed to meet their needs. Accounts from the University of Manchester demonstrate stories such as Social workers indicating that funding care was outside their remit and that studying from home would be the only suitable option. Another case demonstrated that due to a lack of care provided to a student, he was unable to finish his desired course. In turn, he was unable to access work and was nearly made homeless.
Parents of disabled students worry due to these issues often persuading their child to stay at home so that they can personally provide the care, whilst studying, resulting in lack of choice for students which have knock on effects on mental health.
This needs to STOP. How? The National Care Service would enable a student with flexibility and choice. When students move from one LA to another, they would not need constant reassessments for care, unless there was a change circumstances. This has positive long-term effects for employability options too. It is time that disabled students needing personal care receive the same freedom and choice as to where and how to study as their non-disabled peers.
Today the Liberal Democrats and Labour Party are holding an emergency conference about the funding proposal discrepancies regarding the future of care and the National Care Service. The Conservatives have disagreed vastly with the proposed funding option resulting with them not attending the conference. Funding is a major issue with the proposed idea and whatever the verdict, everybody will be affected. People need to decide how this system is to be funded. Disabled students’ lives are compromised without this service and the situation needs to be rectified. With the General Election coming up this year, it is vital for there to be some agreement between the parties about the care service. Political parties need to stop playing childish games and begin to work together to provide disabled students equal rights and choices when it comes to education.
What do you think the National Care Service should be for? Do you want to share your experience of being involved in campaigning, your thoughts on an issue that matters to you? Get in touch with me now at email@example.com.