Under-reported: The issue that terrifies politicians and affects every household – social care

There are subjects we ignore because they are simply too big…

Or because we don’t know anything about them…

And then there are subjects which we can’t bear to consider. Issues which trigger such a profound mix of emotions that we would rather avert our eyes and pretend it will go away.

So it is with social care.

The public policy issue that affects every single household in Britain.

The issue that terrifies politicians.

The issue that is imperilling the survival of the National Health Service.

And yet the issue that has consistently been overlooked.

There are three reasons we refuse to address this question. And they are all to do with emotion.

For these reasons we hide from the reality that one in three of us will survive cancer and will need care. That many of our children will grow to adulthood with multiple and complex needs. That mental illness will affect us all, and that we will live longer and largely healthier lives. But rather than make the adjustments we need to make, both public and private, we prefer to hide behind the sofa like children watching a particularly scary episode of Doctor Who, accepting the lying adult assurance that this will never happened to us.

We cannot continue to avoid facing these consequences of our economic, medical and social progress. We need to acknowledge our fragility, honour the work of care, and recognise that our current prosperity is part of the solution to the looming crisis of social care. But first we need to make the emotional adjustment to see what is in full view if only we choose to see.