01st March 2017

I lost my heart once… have you?

As the financial squeeze on health and social care increases, have you lost heart?

My Great Grandma’s eternity ring, my coat… well maybe two, my nan’s sapphire pendant, my phone-loads, and don’t tell my husband, but his bank card was sent back just yesterday by registered post as I left it in my friend’s car. It is not a glorious admittance, but I have always been the same with my personal possessions, but the hardest was one of the first.

When I was young we struggled financially.  My parents worked voluntarily, and the board and lodgings were free. When we left, it was with nothing, and I knew how hard my parents worked to provide for birthdays and Christmas.

My Crystal Heart

I opened the paper at Christmas and there was a small crystal heart. It threw rainbow light and had an an embossed surface. My sister had a J on hers. They were pretty and wearable and reminded me of my parent’s love and dedication to us.

That sinking feeling

I could not tell you when it happened, I must have been 9 or 10. I could not tell you how, but I lost that precious symbol. The feeling in my stomach was like a sickness, and I did not know what would hurt more, telling my parents, or living with knowing I lost more than a precious gift. To make it worse my sister kept hers safe and wears it even today 30 years on.

Crisis in Health and Social Care

I thought about this this morning, I never write about the crisis within Health and Social Care. I know it is extremely difficult for most if not all of you who read the blogs, and I know some of you may have lost heart with the pressure on your services, your resource and people using the service.

History of the tangled web

The story did not start a year, or even 10 years ago within the Health and Social Care system. Pat Thane author of a Memorandum submitted to the house of commons' health committee inquiry: social care October 2009 lays out the winding path of Social Care in England.  From Postwar inception, to 80’s demand for more privately funded options, there is a heady mix of where we have come from and some lasting concerns.

Late Bloomers

The impact of people living longer, and needing more health and social care is well-known.  The Kings Fund Time to Think Differently gives us data in future trends where the numbers are stark. In relation to an ageing population, they say over the next 20 years the population aged 65-84 will rise by 39 per cent and those over 85 by 106 per cent.

Financial Crash

In 2008 the collapse of Lehman Brothers, saw a nosedive for the financial system globally.

Academic Trish Hafford-Letchfield examined research published in community care in June 2011 Research: How the recession is affecting Adult Social Care. Findings ranged from debt, a perceived rise in mental health and abuse, to a rise in homelessness leading to a decline in health and wellbeing. Impacts of these events are still playing out in the provision of services across the Health and Social Care sector.

In January this year, The Guardian Newspaper reported that at a public account committee, Simon Stevens, Head of NHS England, when asked if there was a “clear gap” between the funding the NHS is receiving and what it needs, Stevens said: “There are clearly very substantial pressures and I don’t think it helps anybody to try to pretend that there aren’t.”

Sorry about all of that – So, how do we get our heart back?

If we listened, to some, the world is definitely nigh, but there is always hope. If we face towards realistic hope, it can help revive our hearts or find them when they are lost.

  • Integration - Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, wrote in February  'The National Audit Office warns that progress with integration of health and social care has, to date, been slower and less successful than envisaged and has not delivered all of the expected benefits for patients, the NHS or local authorities. As a result, the government’s plan for integrated health and social care services across England by 2020 is at significant risk.'
  • Charity work – The King's fund recognised 10 charities who have made an impact on their communities. One of the winners was Age UK South Lakeland– an organisation working with local older people to help them retain independence and exercise real choice in their lives.
  • Peer motivation – The Care Quality Commission continues to rate services with ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’. The latest can be found here.
  • New care models - The Care Quality Commission is speaking to providers about new models of care. The current system is unsustainable, but with a changing view and adjustments to current ways of working through both technology and a merging of resources there is hope.

In our own corner

I always think of corners as places to take shelter, a corner of a room or a book corner at school.  Our own world often does not always feel like the storm outside. That, is a good thing often, and although we have to be mindful, keeping our house in order and doing all we can, watching the difference we make day to day can keep our heart where it needs to be.

  • Remember to take time for yourself, you cannot help others if you are run to the bone yourself.
  • See if there are other organisations who can support your service. Small intervention can give a great
  • Take time to recognise the achievements of staff and managers – recognition has a positive effect further than just the individual.
  • If you are struggling with an area - ask for help, before it becomes a bigger issue – especially around finances. Seek out specialist advisors for Health or social care with a track record of success.

Big Birthday

I was 40 last year. My parents gave me a drop spindle I wanted with brightly coloured wool… and a box that when opened, held a small crystal heart which threw rainbow light and had an embossed surface.

Keep your heart – look after it!

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

Abi Spence

Registration and Inspection Specialist

Abi has worked for and with Government agencies relevant to social care for the past 12+ years. Primarily with the Department of Health, Social Services Inspectorate, Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) and since its inception the Care Quality Commission (CQC). As part of this long involvement Abi has developed a wide and detailed understanding of relevant issues and has worked closely with stakeholders such as people that use services, carers, providers, local government, the Department of Health, Ofsted and the Audit Commission. Read more

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