ON THE EVE of the Budget directors of adult social services issued a stark warning to politicians of each and every party: the next two years following May’s General Election will make or break adult social care.

“Adult social care is at a crossroads. As a country we need to be ambitious for care and recognise that protecting the NHS means protecting adult social care, too,” said David Pearson, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. “There are choices. And there are consequences of those choices.”
 

And at a press briefing* he added: “There is a danger that in some parts of the country sustaining social care services as we have known them will become almost impossible.

“It is a tribute to our health and care systems that we are all living longer. But this warning comes amid fears that some local authority budgets will not be able to carry the rising tide of additional responsibilities that growing numbers of older and disabled people with multiple health conditions and disabilities are placing on them. More and more older and disabled people might be unable to receive the preventative, joined up services they need, and some will receive no support at all.”

Mr Pearson stressed that the Care Act which comes into force in April outlines the overriding importance of good social care ensuring that: “nobody should lack care, choice, safety, dignity and the opportunity to retain as much independence as possible. And nobody should underestimate the importance of our social care services in ensuring that as many of those who need this support, get it.”

A new discussion paper** published by ADASS outlines the developmental steps needed to be taken immediately after the General Election in order to ensure a safe, secure and personalised care and health system for older and disabled people.

* Central government must protect social care funding and align it with the NHS. This should make provision for the £4.3 billion gap in social care funding by 2020 alongside the estimated £8 billion gap in health service funding over the same period.

* All parties must focus relentlessly on making sure that the quality of services remains high, and that no services cause harm.

We must all ensure that newly designed social and health care services concentrate on:

a. Providing good information and advice to enable us to look after ourselves and each other, and to get the right help at the right time as our needs change.
b. Recognising that we are all interdependent and need to build supportive relationships and resilient communities.
c. Developing services that help us get back on track after illness and help disabled people to be independent.
d. Addressing our mental, physical and other forms of wellbeing. Services should be much better joined-up around our individual needs and those of our carers. Personal budgets are central to this approach.

“Additionally,” the report says, “we must heighten the efforts of all parties to build a sustainable workforce to deliver this model, while strengthening local accountability and innovation. This will be achieved by developing local Health and Wellbeing Boards as the places where partners lead on commissioning, market shaping, resource allocation and service delivery…

“Much of our health service rightly involves episodes of treatment by GPs or specialists.

The multiplicity of different organisations and functions between different parts of the NHS and social care is confusing and complex for people to understand and to navigate.”

We achieve these aims, ADASS says, by:

* Introducing a single shared outcome framework for health care, public health and social care.
* Funding the gap facing social care by 2020 alongside that facing the NHS and using the next spending review to work towards a single funding settlement for social care and the NHS.
* Addressing immediate pressures and the double-running costs of developing alternatives through a transformation fund in which investment is conditional on reform.

Mr Pearson ended: “We acknowledge that politicians face difficult choices. We hope they care enough to make the right choices concerning a sustainable funding settlement for health and for care - one that enables a dedicated front line social care workforce to continue to make a distinctive, valued and personal contribution to over a million lives, every minute of every day.”

For further information contact

David Pearson, President, 0115 977 4636

Drew Clode, 020 8348 5023 mob: 07976 837755

Editorial Notes

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors and senior managers of adult social services departments in English local authorities. Directors (DASSs) have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people, adults with disabilities and adults with mental health needs.

In many authorities ADASS members will also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of housing, leisure, libraries, culture, and community safety on behalf of their councils. More than a third of DASSs are also the statutory director of children’s services for their authority.

* Was held at 9.45 am, Monday March 16, 2015 at Local Government House, Smith Square, London SW1
** Distinctive, Valued, Personal: Why Social Care Matters -  The Next Five Years - download below


ADASS March 2015