The joy of having teenagers means there is a chance to revisit the classics, as they work their way through the GCSE syllabus. And sure enough last week, I found myself squashed in my sandwich role between my Mum and a gaggle of sweet eating kids – working our way through a solo rendition of A Christmas Carol.

As marvellous as it was – I found my mind wandering…

Having worked our way through the tried and tested mechanisms of influencing the parliamentary agenda around social care using evidence, testimony, lobbying and more – the advent of a new PM might be just the moment for some ghostly intervention! Their midnight visitations might go something like this…

Take my hand – and we will travel with the PM back in time with the ghost of Christmas past – and see what we can find…

Our first set of images are shockingly similar. As they press their nose toward window on window, year on year, they see learned groups of individuals, talking earnestly, speaking at podiums, clapping and walking from the room clutching the latest manifestation of a plan for social care. The pile of plans grows higher, until we enter into a green chamber, where the people sit opposite each other, row upon row, debating and passing legislation to address the delivery and the funding of social care (the Care Act 2014 is born). The night capped (as opposed to care capped) adorned PM turns to look at his ghostly partner in triumph – job done they call – take me back to my bed chamber – only to hear an unearthly cackle as his spectral guide fades from sight…

A new apparition joins, the phantom guide to the present. This time the visitation has a more urgent feel. The visits range from home to home, with increased rapidity, seeing people struggling to cope, carers pressed beyond measure, workers racing from home to home with barely time to connect with people, MPs surgeries pressed full of people unable to access services because of escalating eligibility, people isolated and alone, adults unable to live independent and fulfilling lives. Alongside this sits a revered star, the NHS, where behind the glitter of the shining name, the PM is shown with unerring insight that the challenges for people, workforce and funders are a mirror of their symbiotic social care twin.

The needs are critical, the pressure mounting – so filled with frantic despair the PM clutches their battered red box, searching for the policy reform that will make this picture disappear – but like old Mother Hubbard – they find that their cupboard is bare…

Being well versed in literature, the PM implores their phantasmagorical guide to rush forward, and hand them over to the future – desperate now to see how their efforts in charge have played out. With remarkable likeness to the Dickensian plot, the spectre of the future takes the PM toward a grave yard. The tombs lie deserted, the graves unkempt. Peering through the gloom, the epitaphs are clear. The lost souls of integration, cross party talks, reform and accessibility lie before them – abandoned in a world devoid of plans for independent lives – with the long grass growing all around the graves that once smacked of ambition.

Wrenched from this night of spectral insight – the PM looks in the mirror. The stories have been told, the impact on lives writ large before them. The tipping point has come and the fulcrum lies with them.

The date is 13th December 2019 – and the message is clear – social care reform has been abandoned for far too long, and without action, the long arm of neglect stretches forward to an unhappy demise of ambition and fulfilment for citizens across the country. The time for action is now – and the agenda for change starts here. Check out the NCF Manifesto for some ideas.

For those who prefer pictures to words check out this seasonal animation on a similar theme and share. Mike Padgham has clearly been visited by the same spirits!

Follow Vic on Twitter – @vicrayner