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26th January 2022

Transformative funding needed to deliver Government’s proposed social care reforms

When the Government launched its white paper People at the Heart of Care on 1 December 2021, it set out an ambitious 10-year plan for adult social care reform. There was, however, much debate about whether it would have the potential to deliver real change to the care sector.

While some organisations such as the National Care Forum (NCF) felt it didn’t go far enough, others were more positive and felt it provided a firm base from which to move forward. The Alzheimer’s Society James White said that while the plans “won’t fix social care overnight, they have put us firmly on the right path.”[i]

The Health and Care Levy

The care sector will receive much needed funding from the new Health and Care Levy, announced in September 2021. This will see National insurance contributions increase in 2022/2023, of which £5.4 billion will be invested into adult social care over the next three years.

The main thrust of the paper, however, is centred on how to achieve three key objectives. Firstly, supporting people to have more choice, control and independence when it comes to care. Secondly, how to provide an outstanding quality of care. And thirdly, how to ensure that care is provided in a way that is fair and accessible to everyone who needs it.

What’s encouraging is that the Government has captured the viewpoints of people who use social care services, presenting their perspective on how they want to be cared for now and in the future.

Key stakeholders such as Think Local and Act Personal (TLAP) and the Health and Wellbeing Alliance were also involved. By canvasing the people who work on the ground, the Government has shown its commitment to developing a workable plan that addresses their key concerns.

A journey

Although the paper may have set us on the right track, Sajid Javid, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care said, “I stress that it is a journey.” He acknowledges that the plans “won’t solve a lot of the problems and challenges we are currently facing in the sector.”  But at least those of us working in social care can feel encouraged that there is a vision for the future.

Mr Javid explained that: “To deliver on this vision I want to encourage investment and innovation right across the sector, to shift away from a reliance on residential care and offer people genuine options for drawing on outstanding care at home and in the community.”

This raises some fundamental questions about what this means for the future of the social care sector. Will there be more demand for, and more emphasis on, home care in the future? What will the sector look like in the next few years? And what needs to change to ensure that more people can access outstanding care at home that Mr Javid refers to, especially regarding funding and staffing.

Funding

When it comes to funding, the Government has pledged:

  • At least £300 million to integrate housing into local health and care strategies
  • A new practical support service to make minor repairs and changes in peoples’ homes to help people remain independent and safe in their home
  • A total of £30 million to help local areas innovate around the support and care they provide in new and different ways, providing more options that suit peoples’ needs and individual circumstances.

As many in the industry have commented, these investment figures are not ‘transformative’ and much more funding needs to be found.

When it comes to demand for home care, it’s important to note that many people want the company, socialisation, routine and assurance of 24/7 support that residential care provides.  So, unless there is a clear commitment and stronger focus on live-in care in the community, it is difficult to see how this transformation will take place.

Home care

As domiciliary care is very different to residential care, the workforce needs to be properly equipped to carry out this work. According to Emily Kerrigan, Domiciliary Care Policy Lead with QCS, recruitment is a key consideration. “This has always been an issue in the sector, even more so since the pandemic. It will be exacerbated further if there is a shift towards more dom care services and the right investment is not in place.”

In terms of funding, the Government has earmarked:

  • A minimum of £500 million to enable the social care workforce to have the right training and qualifications and feel recognised and valued for their skills and commitment
  • Up to £25 million to work with the sector to kick start a change in the services provided to support unpaid carers.

Managing an important transitory shift

This is very much needed to ensure that the workforce is equipped to deal with any shift towards home care, so there are enough staff in place with the right training and knowledge to carry out the work.

Of course, many at-home carers are unpaid, saving the economy £132 billion per year. It will be interesting to see how just £25 million will help these 13.6 million who provided care throughout the pandemic receive the recognition and support they deserve.[ii]

Other Government plans to support and develop the workforce include a much-needed knowledge and skills framework, career pathways and linked investment in learning and development to support progression for care workers and registered managers. This will go a long way to change the often-negative perception of caring as a career in the minds of new recruits.

QCS, a leading provider of compliance, guidance and best practice can support providers in  the development of knowledge and training with aids such as its workforce planning tool.

Technology

The white paper stresses the need to harness the latest technologies, to find ways they can help deliver more efficient person-centred care. Highlights include:

  • At least £150 million of additional funding to drive greater adoption of technology and achieve widespread digitisation across social care
  • Digital tools and technology to support independent living and improve the quality of care
  • A new national website to explain the upcoming changes and at least £5 million to pilot new ways to help people understand and access the care and support available

QCS Workforce Survey

It’s refreshing to see this. Technology has, after all, become a vital part of the social care sector and is something that providers will have to embrace more and more. This was highlighted in the QCS ‘Building a Better Workforce Together’ survey, which found that COVID-19 stimulated an increased use of technology in care. 80% of people responded that they thought that technology and the increased use of electronic systems were a good thing and improved the way they could do their job.

QCS’ Emily Kerrigan adds that, over the coming years, “we will see more technological advances to support the care process, such as falls detection and home monitoring. Even perhaps more robotic devices that can support and assist care workers in their role”.

To conclude, then, although the white paper lists many admirable initiatives, it’s not clear how the move towards more in-home care will be achieved. What’s is clear is that funding over time needs to be addressed.

References

[i] The Alzheimer’s Society

Government publish Adult Social Care Reform White Paper - Alzheimer’s Society responds

https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/news/2021-12-01/government-publish-adult-social-care-reform-white-paper

[ii] Carers UK

Facts and figures

https://www.carersuk.org/news-and-campaigns/press-releases/facts-and-figures

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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