Guest article: The social care journey… Have you reached your destination?

Guest article: The social care journey… Have you reached your destination?

William Lee, Policy and Parliamentary Executive of the British Health Care Trades Association

On 1 December 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) released a whitepaper, People at the Heart of Care, that sets out its 10-year vision for adult social care and offers info on proposals that will be funded by the ₤ 1.8 billion-per-year boost earmarked for social care from the federal governments 1.25 percent increase in NIC levy (₤ 5.4 billion total over 3 years).

William Lee, Policy and Parliamentary Executive of the British Healthcare Trades Association (BHTA), supplies a whistle-stop trip of the social care reform journey and explores a few of the bottom lines made in the UK Governments current adult social care reform whitepaper.

BHTA has actually commented previously on this financing boost (revealed in September 2021), and we are delighted to see the government begin to expand its prepare for social care. It is clear, however, that this whitepaper– as explained by the Secretary of State in his Executive Summary– is truly just a “journey-planner” for social care reform.

The whistle-stop tour consists of:

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Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs)– More of the very same, more needed

We are delighted to note strategies to continue DFG financing (see Chapter 4.18) at near its present rate (₤ 573 million/year 2021-22; ₤ 570 million/year 2022-23 & & 2024-25), not least since DFGs so frequently fund life-enhancing changes provided by BHTA members (e.g. stairlifts, wet rooms, and other home adjustments).

As Care & & Repair England points out, nevertheless, inflation and rising expense of materials and labour would have made a DFG financing increase more welcome, and we continue to wait on more information on how brand-new houses will be made more available, a choice that has actually once again been postponed (see Chapter 4.24).

Digitisation and caretech innovation– The future is now?

An allocate of ₤ 50 million/year over the next 3 years (₤ 150 million total) to drive digitisation throughout the social care sector and unlock the potential of caretech development that makes it possible for preventative care (e.g. determining and keeping track of devices) and independent living (e.g. tablets, e-readers) is a welcome advancement (see Chapter 4.28 ff). BHTA and its members concur with analysis from the Technology-Enabled Care Services Association (TSA) that suggests “digital tools can be used more proactively throughout adult social care, so that individuals can live healthier lives for longer, in their own houses.”

We contact funders at all levels of federal government– NHS, DHSC, local authority, etc– to ensure that uptake of innovative products is as streamlined as possible, with concentrate on 360-degree favorable effects of such development for patients and carers alike, rather than a narrow, cost-only view.

Social care/occupational treatment workforce– Who looks after the carers?

OTs and others in the social care labor force will welcome the statement of ₤ 500 million for a raft of planned workforce transformation measures (see Chapter 6.5 ff), including a Knowledge and Skills Framework and Continuous Professional Development, and it is pleasing to see OTs and others identified for their exceptional work in assisting individuals live richer, more independent lives.

Concerns remain, however, about spaces in pay and working conditions for the social care workforce (see commentary from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists). We hope future efforts are in line more with the lofty goals of the whitepaper and less with the governments current reticence to amend the Health and Care Bill 2021 to embed NHS and social care workforce planning/reporting in law.

Those living with dementia and their carers– Still waiting

The federal governments forthcoming standalone technique on those living with dementia and their carers (See Chapter 1.15) is keenly awaited– some may say overdue– and it stays to be seen whether it will redress financing and assistance imbalances that suggest dementia sufferers have access to fewer resources than those affected by other conditions.

Integration of health and care services– Not quite yet

Perhaps the biggest omission in the whitepaper is the lack of detail or colour around how health and care services will be incorporated moving forward, which has been relegated to another, future whitepaper (see Chapter 2, p. 30). Offered the amount of integration “talk” from federal government, the “walk” cant come quickly enough.

We applaud the goals described in the governments whitepaper, but a lot more detail is required to comprehend how these aspirations– which, after all, do not attend to immediate social care requirements right now– will equate to better social care in the future. In the words of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services:

” There is much detail to fill in and much more moneying to find … plainly the amounts identified so far can be no greater than pump-priming, [and] what we need now is a bridge to that brighter future, to attend to the instant crisis and make sure that everyone gets the care and support they require.”

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BHTA and its members look forward to dealing with DHSC and other delivery partners to make sure that the social care reform journey ends at its wanted destination– where individuals have choice, control, self-reliance, quality and customized social care that is available and fair.