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‘I was put into care home for elderly at 46’

A year ago Nina Thair was living in her own home and working as a teacher at a secondary school in Brighton.

She had overcome many challenges after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in her late 20s – 17 years ago.

But she was still able to live independently with the help of walking aids.

After a deterioration in her condition, all that changed.

A lack of support in the community meant she had to be admitted to hospital.

And from there, she was transferred to a care home for the elderly as she needed a wheelchair and could no longer cope with the stairs at her home.

“The care was fantastic – the system is full of people doing their absolute best in very challenging circumstances,” Ms Thair says.

“But I should not have been there. I am a 46-year-old woman and I was in a bed that was meant for a dementia patient.

“There are just not the services available for working-age adults like me.”

Local authority expenditure on social care

England, real-terms spend per adult

‘My money is not my own’

In the end, Ms Thair spent 10 months in the care home before being able to move into a specially adapted flat.

While in the home, she had to sell her flat for much less than it was worth and she has now started paying the cost of her care.

“I have always worked full time despite my MS, saving and paying in to a mortgage,” Ms Thair says. “But I’ve had to take early retirement now. I always had a dream of going travelling and writing and blogging about my experience.

“But I’ve now realised that is not possible – all my money has to go on my care. Because of my disability, my money is not my own. It is massively unfair.

“I’ve probably gone through half of it [my money] in the past six weeks and in another six to eight weeks the rest will be gone.

“I am not saying I should not contribute – but everything I planned to do is gone. It breaks my heart.

“You see the same with elderly people who have saved all their lives and want to give their family an inheritance. People should be entitled to care if they need it. Politicians just do not understand it.”

When Ms Thair’s money does run out, she will be once again reliant on what local services can be provided. Currently, she has help from two carers but fears this may not continue in the long term.

“Soon I will not have any money,” she says. “I will be back at the sharp end of it fighting to get the care I need.”

Widespread concern

It is a fight that is becoming increasingly difficult. There are more than one million adults reliant on social care provided by councils.

A survey of nearly all directors of social care across England indicates 94% have little or no confidence they will be able to meet their statutory responsibilities next year, with 90% saying they have concerns they have insufficient capacity to cope this winter.

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) president Julie Ogley said it was clear the situation was “getting worse”.

And the problems accessing care were causing people to end up in hospital, go without care or rely on friends and family.

“Good care and support transforms lives,” she added.

Election campaign

ADASS said the system was “desperately short of funding” but has also called for wider changes.

During the election campaign, all three main parties in England – social care is devolved – have promised to act.

The Tories and Lib Dems want to see a cross-party approach adopted to come up with new proposals.

And the Tories have made an explicit commitment no-one should have to sell their own home to pay for care.

Labour, meanwhile, has called for free personal care to be introduced for those who need help washing or dressing.

It has said this would be targeted at older people first, before being rolled out to working-age adults.

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BBC News – Health