Home matters, it can be an expression of independence, important to our sense of wellbeing and critical to our health. Where we live should be a choice at every stage in our lives. But for those who have complex care and support needs that choice is all too often denied, confused with the package of care, and loss of control.
One of the things I am most proud of our party for in government, is the emphasis we are putting on mental health. I want to pay tribute to Paul Burstow and Norman Lamb for their work on this and I also want to thank Lib Dem party members like Lee Dargue who have put in hours and hours, campaigning on this issue. Mental health services are absolutely vital but tragically find themselves swept under the carpet all too often. This silence must end. It costs lives, divides our society and harms our young people. We must have the courage to open our eyes to the truth about mental health and act.
The Office for National Statistics projects that the number of people in England aged 85 or over will increase from 1.24 million in 2013 to 2.3 million by 2030. This age group is also the most likely to have some form of disability. A glance at just some of the announcements made in the last two weeks alone tells us that demographic change is creeping back onto the public agenda. The question on everyone's lips: Are we prepared? The answer: No.
Choice is, "Shall we paint the bedroom blue or green?" or even "'Shall we start a family?" Choice is not, "Shall I have constant PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) flashbacks?", nor is it, "Shall I be bipolar and be so hard to live with that my partner leaves me?" It is also not, "Shall I feel so depressed that I'll think about ending it all?"