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Social Care Reform – what will it take?

Social Care Reform – what will it take?

Proposals to reform adult social care go back as far as I can remember. The latest glimmer of hope, the health and social care white paper published in February 2021. The paper states that the government is ‘committed to the sustainable improvement of adult social care and will bring proposals later this year”.

The health and social care committee’s funding and workforce report Oct 2020 ‘funding and workforce’ states, the adult social care workforce is under ‘significant pressure’, the sustainability of the workforce ‘called into question’, and the existing pressures (pre pandemic) left the sector ‘ill equipped to respond’.

Yet no plan to fix social care. I ask myself, what will it take?

The kings fund social care 360 report 2021, paints a bleak picture of the sector pre pandemic:

·       the demand for social care increased yet provision decreased between the period from 2015/16 to 2019/20, 120,000 people requested social care yet 14,000 less people received it

·       the means test continued to get meaner because thresholds were not rising in line with inflation

·        user satisfaction with publicly funded care was showing a small, long-term decline

·        fewer people were using direct payments, suggesting a fall in personalisation of care 

Skills for care workforce data shows:

·        34% of providers urgently need more staff with 42% saying they will need more staff in the coming months

·        an estimated 112,000 vacancies, if the workforce grows proportionate to demographics then 520,000 more people will be required to work in the sector, an extra 32%

The demographics:

·        920,000 people living with dementia, expected to rise to over 1m in 2024 (Alzheimer’s society)

·        the 85+ age group is the fastest growing and is set to double to 3.2 million by mid-2041 and treble by 2066 (5.1 million; 7% of the UK population) (ONS, 2018)

Workforce depletion, funding shortfall, demand increasing, is there a perfect storm brewing?

The fall out will be on the NHS.

We have sacrificed so much over this last year to protect our NHS, yet continued failure to reform social care would prove to be catastrophic to the NHS in the long term.

What will it take to reform social care, if not a pandemic and the acknowledgement of a sector under immense pressure?

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