The report presents a comprehensive and authoritative picture of the state of health and care in England at this time. Our social care staff, alongside unpaid family carers, work tirelessly every day to protect people from harm, help older and disabled people to get the care and support they need, and this transforms lives. We are pleased that generally the quality of care is holding up. Adult social care is more than help with washing, dressing and assisting people to eat. It is support for people to lead the kind of lives they want to lead with supportive family and/ or friends and supportive communities. It allows people to take risks to reach independence, and safeguards them from harm.
However, as this report highlights, ongoing staff shortages, a fragile care market, and absence of long-term funding and a long-term Social Care plan mean we are facing a ‘perfect storm’ – adult social care is under serious strain across the country. That is particularly so in relation to choice – getting the right care and support at the right time, in the right place and in the manner that people expect.
Parts of this report make uncomfortable reading. We must ensure that anybody with mental health conditions and with learning disabilities can access the kind of care and support with staff with sufficient skills we know is possible. We’re committed to working with NHS colleagues to make this happen. But the current arrangements make that incredibly hard to do for some. This is unjust.
There is an NHS long Term Plan for people with learning disabilities and autism that has an ambition for good lives. We believe additional funding for the adult social care should go directly to local councils, rather than what feels like ‘funding being virtually locked up’ in the NHS. This would enable people to get the care they need in their communities. It would also mean, in the interim that there would be sufficient resources to keep a much closer eye on seeing that people get the quality care they need in care settings. With funding to councils directly, funding to provide care at home, the plan to avoid unnecessary hospital admissions could be considerably speeded up and misery and distress avoided.
There is a similar picture for people with mental health problems. The impact of cumulative savings over the last five years has been that social care, by and large, can only now support people in crisis. It makes no sense to have an NHS Long Term Plan and funding without a social care long term plan and funding. Both are likely to fail. This needs to be part of greater social care reform. Social care has a vital role to play to help people in crisis and at risk of crisis in their local communities.
Vice-President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), James Bullion, said
“Those of us who are disabled, mentally unwell or vulnerable and older, and those of us who care in families, need increased longer-term funding for social care, together with a long-term Social Care plan, so that we can create a system fit for the twenty-first century. This must be a Government priority, co-produced with people and professionals, and not yet another empty promise.”
Notes to Editors
- A copy of the report is available here.
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