Social care services face huge challenges over the next decade as the gap between demand and provision widens. It is important that the issues faced at the frontline remain at the forefront of policy-makers minds.
That is why we have launched Mind the Care Gap, a campaign giving a voice to professionals working in the sector as well as to older people who are providing or in receipt of care themselves. Informed by our case studies, we have set out what we believe the Government must focus on ahead of the publication of its widely anticipated adult social care Green Paper in the summer.
The campaign has already explored loneliness and social isolation and will turn now to look at the care workforce, community responses to health and care needs, and what future provision could look like.
We are charity committed to making the case for the unification of health and adult social care provision to meet the needs of everyone in our society as our population continues to age. Since we launched the campaign there have been some positive signs that the Government is listening. The Prime Minister appointed Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Health and Social Care as part of her new year Cabinet reshuffle. This should be welcomed as it signals the Government’s intent to lead by example in integrating oversight of health and social care services.
Professionals and older people we interviewed for the campaign set out a range of views about the state of care provision. Health and care workers spoke to us about their frustration at the way budgets are allocated, raised issues about improving end of life care, and called for a holistic approach to address the wellbeing needs of people as they enter later life. We also learned that a large number of people in sheltered accommodation are now living with evermore complex and long-term mental and physical health conditions.
Rene Baterip, a resident of an enhanced sheltered housing scheme, highlighted this issue.
“It has deteriorated over the years, and I find now that you have got residents looking after residents, because often staff are not here or the staff haven’t got the expertise, or it’s getting near going home time for the staff and they do not want to get involved.”
An adult social care worker spoke to us about the need to allow professionals more time to deliver face-to-face support, because the number of cases they manage and time pressures they face means they are under increasing strain to support those in need.
“A telephone call assessment doesn’t give you that realistic a picture. A patient can say they’re fine, then in a week’s time they’ve ended up in hospital because they were not managing and the home environment is in absolute need of support, advice and guidance.”
In April we are holding a Mind the Care Gap Summit to ensure the themes and issues discussed during the campaign are not forgotten. The summit will involve policy makers and adult social care organisations and will develop ideas to help shape a long-term strategic plan. Only a new settlement for health and care, providing the right services for everyone, while recognising the benefits of living longer, will deliver the approach we need to begin closing the care gap for good.
@FCC_UK and campaign hashtag #MindTheCareGap.