2017 was a particularly difficult year for the recipients and deliverers of social care. The election campaigns of course were all about Brexit but social care ran close. The Conservative Manifesto set out commitments for paying the full costs of home care, a floor to the amount to be paid but no cap or ceiling. This as well after the Dilnot proposals had been ditched.
The health and care services were and still are under the most intense pressure as there was unprecedented demand for care and support, not enough money to meet publically funded requirements and providers of services handing back contracts. Here
There are increasing numbers of working age adults and older people who are screened out of access to services and we have no idea what that means for their health well being.
The Competition and Markets Authority published their report about a number of concerns in the care home market practices and potential breaches of consumer law. There is nothing new in individuals and families being forced to make decisions about care home placements in a crises or that there is a cross subsidy for care costs. The rich are paying for the publically funded recipients of care they just don’t always know about it. Here
For the 17,000 residents and several thousand staff of Four Seasons Health Care the risks of continuity have been deferred until this year. Here
2018 will be another challenging year for our citizens who need access to high quality social care whatever their age, whatever their requirements and wherever the care can best be delivered. It is not going to get any easier for those in need or those providing the care.
The Secretary of State for Health is now the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (although he always was despite the title change) and we have the prospect of a Green Paper for older adults later this year. It remains unclear what will happen with working age adults.
The funding gap will continue to rise and the expected shortfall will be £2.5 billion by 2019. There remain on average 2,800 unfilled manager posts, around 90,000 vacancies overall and turnover rates that in any other sector would ring alarm bells.
There is no big plan, no ambitious plan for social care that is funded and costed. As Richard Humphries points out the big idea is that there is no big idea in social care Here
What will remain consistent in 2018 is the fantastic work that care staff deliver every minute of every day of the year. Care and support maybe low paid but it is highly skilled.
The Voyage Care Staff at Derwent Cottage advocated for the needs the person they support despite resistance. The hard work they put in was life saving. Here I was privileged to attend a number of events in 2017 that acknowledge the contribution staff make to help people maintain their dignity and independence. I will be privileged enough to have these opportunities again in 2018.
At a time when there is no political ambition to deal with the challenges of how we meet the true costs of care, what we need to do to attract and retain the skilled staff needed to provide that care or how we get from where we are to a different and better system; the one consistent factor are the staff who work in this sector. I start off the year commending their contribution, dedication and commitment to helping make a positive difference to those who need care and support.