It is certainly good to learn that the interest in carers and the cared-for at home are now the subject of some interest by HM Government. A quick scan of the population statistics tells anyone that we have an ageing population and it may mean problems for the caring services that simply cannot be met by our current provisions, NHS and taxes. Nor can families take the strain - at least not without assistance. That assistance must come from our social services provision and from changes in our current employment attitude. Perhaps it is time to make a decision about how much we are prepared to pay for the kind of society we want in the future. How important is family life and the care we provide for people?
It is true that carers can have their responsibilities taken into account if the person they are caring for is disabled and the new equality legislation looks after that, but beyond that level the legalities are a little hazy. If we are going to live in a society which takes care of the frail, the elderly, those with dementia and the disabled the way we want, the way which reflects the kind of society we wish to live in, then there have to be changes. We are going to have to look at employment rights for family members in the way in which we once viewed having rights where children and the disabled are concerned; it may seem novel and even revolutionary now, as was childcare and care for disabled people in society then (and not so very long ago, either), but changes there will have to be - just think of the alternative.
This week's dreadful child abuse case in the north-west reflects again the grim underbelly of poor child care and appalling possibilities of criminality against children. Too many questions remain unanswered and it would be easy to ask where the parents were when 'grooming' was taking place. The step-by-step careful insinuation of unbelievable behaviour that eventually becomes abuse is not easy to spot at the start - it is easy to see at the end and the benefit of hindsight is known to all. We should not just be watching out for our children, we need to help them to watch out for themselves.
On a somewhat different note, readers may have noticed the announcement this week of the death of Maurice Sendak of Where the Wild Things Are fame. Anyone who has had anything to do with children over the last fifty years will know this wondrously illustrated book which demonstrates the timelessness of childhood, the need to enjoy a rumpus and the joy of discovering that a safe home is there after a journey into the imagination. The book is an unsurpassed contribution of its kind to family life - it is just a pure shame it is one that is not enjoyed by every family and by all children.
Penny Booth is a teaching fellow in family and child law at the University of Manchester Law School. She writes the CPD questions for the Family Law journalCPD.
Contact Penny on Twitter: @Legalbirdie
The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.