Originally written for the Crewe Chronicle
There are some people that you meet in life that you will never forget. Joyce Yoxall is one of those people.
Some time ago, I visited Joyce to discuss her problems with the social care system. By this time, I had already begun sinking my teeth into the issues with our broken system. But I was so moved by Joyce’s account that I knew that we needed to do more.
Joyce’s husband, David, suffered a stroke in 2014. Since then, Joyce has been forced to stop the care that David should be entitled to because of the high cost and poor quality of care. This is all too familiar these days. We have the dangerous situation where people who have been assessed as needing care are losing it because it is too expensive. How can this be justified in a 21st century society with any claim to being civilised?
Earlier this year, I approached Age UK to arrange a Social Care Listening Event. People deserve dignity in old age and I think the best place to start is by hearing about my constituents’ experiences and how they think the system should work and how it should be funded. I invited Joyce to come along and share her experiences.
In a previous letter to this paper, I vowed to make sure that Westminster heard about this reality for people living in Crewe & Nantwich. Last week, I proudly welcomed Joyce to the Houses of Parliament to speak in front of a packed audience about her daily struggle as a carer.
She spoke to a room filled with MPs, including the Conservative Minister for Health and Social Care, about how she had been “let down” and “crippled with care costs”. I had to fight back the tears as she spoke about being mentally and physically exhausted and that she dare not think of the year ahead.
The most rewarding part of my role as your Member of Parliament is being able to empower you to make a real difference. For too long, this Conservative government has been able to ignore people in Crewe & Nantwich. At last year’s election, the Conservatives proposed a “dementia tax” whilst I promised to bring your voice to Westminster.
I stood on a fully-costed manifesto promise to invest £8 billion to tackle the crisis in social care. I will continue to pressure the government to make sure that quality and affordable care is available to everyone who needs it.
Beyond this, we need to think about a bolder offering. Independent living should be a universal right. To achieve this, we need a national independent living service that is free at the point of delivery, much like our NHS. This is the only way to solve the social care catastrophe that faces us all.