Sarah Jones, Chief Executive at Anchor, shares her thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for the year ahead
A new year but the same old challenges in the social care sector?
Maybe. But with the challenges intensifying and 2024 expected to be an election year, all of us in the sector have a responsibility to ensure that social care reform is at the forefront of the national consciousness.
We know that care providers face an ongoing challenge in terms of state support for a fair price for care, as councils face ever greater budgetary constraints. And with a relatively new Health and Social Care Secretary, we and the sector as a whole must continue to call for a consistent and sustainable approach to social care funding. We look forward to hearing more from Government on this.
At Anchor, we are passionate about social care being recognised as a highly skilled and specialised sector with a workforce that takes great pride in what they do every day.
We were proud to become the first large care and housing provider to be an accredited Living Wage
Foundation employer, committing to paying colleagues the real Living Wage for the foreseeable future.
We have increased our training and career development pathways to help colleagues progress and continue to look at what more we can do to support our care workforce as part of a comprehensive package of benefits, which already includes shopping discounts and support for people’s wellbeing.
More work with schools and colleges to promote careers in social care among younger people is vital if we are to inspire a new generation of people to join our workforce and shine a light on the difference that great social care makes to people’s lives.
A further challenge we face, not only in the sector, but across society as a whole, is the growing numbers of people living with dementia. There are over 900,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this is set to rise to over one million by 2025. At an individual level, there are many ways we can improve the quality of life of a person living with dementia, through the provision of highly specialised and personalised care. At a system-wide level the partnership between housing, health and social care can be strengthened, particularly in terms of information sharing, to improve the experience of people receiving health and social care services and increase early diagnosis.
This is why we are keen for government to prioritise the development of a dementia strategy, which must commit to a shared approach across housing, social care and the NHS.
As a not-for-profit care and housing provider, we reinvest every penny we make into our properties and services, building more and innovating for the future. We’re proud of growing our care home portfolio to 120 care homes and look forward to opening more homes in 2024, to ensure we continue to meet current and future needs of residents.
In the modern, digital world, technology can have a hugely positive impact in our sector.Digital Care Planning, Digital Medication Management and introducing a Sign In app for visitors to our care homes all help to reduce the administrative burden. That means colleagues have more time to focus on what really matters, providing outstanding care for our residents.
So, yes, perhaps the challenges are as they have been for some time – only more intense. But this year also provides an opportunity for us all to demonstrate the difference that our sector makes and why it is something to be cherished.