Fixing the crisis in Social Care

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Social care, along with climate change, is perhaps the greatest challenge facing us as a country and a party – and we want your help to tackle it. Last year, the Federal Policy Committee commissioned a new working group to look at all aspects of adult social care, covering not just the elderly but the disabled too, who have been completely ignored by this government’s proposals.

The question that is asked by most is how do we fund social care – how much money is needed to deliver a quality social care service, what contributions should the receivers of care make, and what taxes should fund the gap? We know the government’s proposals just aren’t good enough – we must come up with something better.

We are also interested in how we can integrate health and social care into a seamless service. We don’t want to nationalise the social care sector into the NHS, but the two services must work together with each other.

At the moment, social care is primarily in the ambit of county councils and unitary authorities. We want to review the role that should be played by local, regional and national government as well as the wider community in delivering social care. We believe that local government should be in the driving seat of social care, but regional and national governments have a role to play too.

One of the great challenges facing the social care sector, again neglected by this government, is the workforce. With low morale, poor pay and conditions, little career progression, and a political class that often scapegoats the sector, carers are leaving the sector in droves, leading to a lack of experienced staff. We need to change this, and make caring the rewarding work that it can and should be.

We also want to hear how we can make services work for disabled people. At the moment, disabled people are treated like numbers on a screen, buffeted from agency to agency and not receiving the support they need. We want a person-focused service, with services and support tailored to individual needs and desires.

We also want to drive up standards in social care services. We believe that a combination of greater transparency and openness to change in the sector, together with minimum standards and locally tailored plans for improvement can make a big difference.

Finally, we want to ensure that unpaid carers, especially young carers, receive the support and recognition that they need and deserve. We have worked closely with the Carers Commission, and would like to hear how we can build on their work.

Social care is a devolved matter, so our proposals are for England only, but we would like to hear from members in the rest of the UK how the devolved administrations approach to social care works and learn from their failures and successes.

You can find the consultation paper here. The deadline for responses is the 18th March.

We will also be hosting a consultation event at this year’s Spring Conference on Saturday the 12th March between 17.40 – 18.45, where we will discuss our proposals.

* Baroness Judith Jolly has been a Liberal Democrat peer since 2011, and previously served as Health Spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords from 2017 to 2020.

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  • ” We don’t want to nationalise the social care sector into the NHS, but the two services must work together with each other.”

    Personally, I think it should be nationalised into the NHS system, that does not mean that private providers cannot provide services as is the case with the NHS Now.

    The problem with social care is it’s a minimum wage job that is seen as Non-skilled ( though it is very far from it)
    There is very little training and as the article points out, very limited room for career progression. this creates an environment for high staff turn-overs and an industry that is based on profits rather than results and quality service.

    By making social care training a recognised qualification and adopting a paygrade system akin to NHS workers, it would not only attract more workers who would feel that they working in a “professional role” but would also hold onto those workers as they feel their career is taking them somewhere.

    That of course means it needs to pay for,
    The system is broken at the moment and is costing the NHS far more money due to the lack of resources in social care, therefore i cannot see what the issue is with bringing social care back in house anyway

  • Trevor Andrews 12th Feb '22 - 8:41am

    Dear Judith,
    I think Social care should come under the NHS as there are too many links and care is more often a health issue. I am not convinced that involving Local Government I’d a good idea for this very reason and the fact that the more people involved the more admin costs, the less efficient and effective it becomes.

    Why not have a devolved system of NHS Social Care offices that can manage the situation and work with local medical practitioners, local government and charities. Care is often about knowing where to go for care and is not always about money. What people want is some central point they can go to when they need help, much like a GP or Medical Centre.

    I am in the local Royal British Legion here and lots of us are willing to help and often care for people but it’s knowing where to go and what help is available. We did some quizzes and raised money for a mother with an epileptic daughter and got here a special pushchair. This campaign motivated us all and having a caring society is important. I wonder what the situation would be if she could have just gone to a local office and got one free. Perhaps we would have just sat at the RBL having a drink and moaning about high taxation.

  • Angie Robertson 12th Feb '22 - 10:10am

    Thank you for raising this issue. It is the issue that keeps getting kicked into the long grass. This government has no good plans for how to fund or run effective social care. Social care is the ultimate safety net and as a society we need to take a much longer term view of social care and why people need it. We need to invest in preventative services that could mean people don’t require social care (or at least don’t need it for as long). More mental health and addiction services for instance including use of digital health platforms. More affordable and social housing that is well maintained so that people don’t find themselves in a hospital bed because their home is not suitable for them to return to (eg damp). I know someone who found themselves in this situation.

  • David Garlick 12th Feb '22 - 10:26am

    Social Care was badly neglected by the NHS when it had responsibility for it. The choice of spending limited resources between Hospital care and residential and home care led those in charge to back hospital care to the detriment of Social Care. Given the situation they were in I suspect my choice would not have varied much from theirs.
    Whilst they need to work closely together they must never be joined in one orgnisation.
    Our emphasis has to be on prevention, education and advice to avoid costly services being needed fromthe NHS or formal Social Care.
    The big issue is how much should I be expected to pay to keep me safe and comfortable whilst in care and should my desire to ‘leave my wealth to my family when I die, come before paying for that care I need right now.
    The standards of care provided need to be first calss especially for those with disabilities who may face many more years in receipt of those services than most of us can expect. This is a complex issue and the answers will not be simple or straightforward. What is clear is that the funding is inadequate and we will need to pay more either as workers or service users. It must be both but getting the balance right is the issue. The devil will be in the detail…

  • Brad Barrows 12th Feb '22 - 11:41am

    I do think there is merit in the Scottish system in distinguishing between personal care and nursing care, both of which are free for all who are assessed as requiring them, and other care or residential services towards which people are expected to pay depending on an assessment of their financial means. The taxpayer should be expected to contribute where people do not have the means to pay for other care or residential services they require but should not be subsidising those with assets merely because they wish to provide an inheritance for their families.

  • Regarding financing, people need to take more responsibility for their future care. This will help prevention as well as funding. I would integrate hospice into social care and the nhs. Funding should be free for all these at a basic level according to assessed need. Above this a means tested fee should apply.

  • @matt (and others) – “I think it should be nationalised into the NHS system”
    Totally disagree, the NHS needs to be a service provider to a national social care service, albeit one with a close working relationship.

    The problem with the NHS handling care is that they only see things within a medical framework, so people become patients not service users. I’ve seen the stupidity of this mentality these last six months where the NHS was happy to discharge an elderly vulnerable person in need of 24hr care at 10pm on a Friday night to a house that hasn’t been occupied for weeks and with no support/on-going care arrangements in place. To the NHS the fact that we lived 2 hours away was immaterial, they had ticked the next-of-kin box.

    @Peter Hirst – “Regarding financing, people need to take more responsibility for their future care.”
    Hope you have savings to cover potentially £1,500 per week for live-in care plus your normal domestic expenditure. (that’s subsidised as all equipment has been provided by the NHS).
    Currently, anyone with more than £23,250 (including their home, even if they are living in it) is liable to pay this bill.

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