Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive at Care England on reimagining and reforming social care to shape the future of the sector.
In recent years, the social care sector in England has faced numerous challenges, including issues of quality, funding, and workforce shortages. As a result, there is a growing recognition that the current system of social care regulation needs to be reimagined and reformed. A new vision for social care regulation in England should prioritise the following key principles.
Person-centred care – The new regulatory framework should place the needs and preferences of individuals at the heart of social care provision. This means ensuring that people have a say in the care they receive and that their voices are heard in the regulatory process. It also means promoting choice and control and enabling individuals to live fulfilling and independent lives. This has to be at the centre of how we regulate commissioners as well as providers.
Quality and safety – The new regulatory system should have a strong focus on ensuring high-quality care and the safety of individuals. This includes robust inspection and enforcement mechanisms, as well as clear standards and guidelines for social care providers. It should also encourage continuous improvement and innovation in care provision.
Integration and collaboration – Social care regulation should be closely aligned with other sectors, such as healthcare and promote seamless and coordinated care. This requires greater collaboration between regulatory bodies, as well as improved information sharing and joint working. It also means breaking down the barriers between different types of care, such as residential and home care, to provide a more holistic approach.
Workforce development – The new regulatory framework should have oversight of the quality of staff, promote and champion a skilled and compassionate social care workforce and promote a culture of respect and dignity for all staff.
The new regulatory system should be transparent and accountable to the public, service users, and their families and engage professionally with providers. This means providing accessible information about the quality of care, as well as clear channels for raising concerns and complaints. It also means holding social care providers to account for their performance, but this requires the regulator to be transparent and deliver the highest quality service, and not to engage in double standards around communication transparency.
To achieve this new vision for social care regulation in England, it will be necessary to engage with a wide range of stakeholders, including service users, carers, social care providers, social care, and policymakers. It will also require adequate funding and resources, as well as a commitment to long-term reform. By embracing these principles, we can create a social care system that is fit for the future and delivers high-quality, person-centred care for all and learn from regulation how to improve services.