McClinton took up the presidency of ADASS (the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services) today and reflected on the effects of almost a decade of spending cuts and the devastating impact on social care of the Covid pandemic. To read her speech in full, please see here.
But she said social care had meanwhile, and without public debate, been gradually taking over key NHS responsibilities: care workers now skilfully and safely undertook tasks once performed by health colleagues, while many nursing homes had become today’s equivalent of the local cottage hospital.
“Our care and support has been developing haphazardly,” McClinton said.
“We need to stop being driven by events and be assertive about the kind of care and support we want to see. We need a plan for the future – and all of us who draw on social care, who commission it, who provide it and who regulate it can help shape that future.”
McClinton, who is director of health and adult services and deputy chief executive for the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said social care could be extremely proud of its response to the Covid crisis and paid tribute to the care workers – almost 1,000 in England alone - who lost their lives to the virus.
She warned that the pandemic had shown that social care must be “never again treated as an afterthought”.
McClinton described how she was drawn into social work by the “obvious inequality” she saw around her while growing up in inner London. Her mother lived with depression and later with dementia, eventually being detained in psychiatric hospital, and her father had to become an unpaid carer.
McClinton’s first social work job was working with people living with HIV in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, giving her early insight into the principles of co-production of personalised support that today underpin best practice across social care.
She used her inaugural presidential address, to the ADASS spring seminar at Wyboston Lakes in Bedfordshire, to call for “significant investment” in social care to help address unmet need for care and support and tackle a rapidly worsening workforce crisis.
Vacancy rates in social care in England soared from 5.9% in March last year to 10% last month.
McClinton said ‘The number of people waiting for care and support continues to grow steeply: now more than a half a million people are missing out on vital care and support.
“Social care has been heroic – there has been a very big increase in the number of hours of home care that have been delivered over recent months, BUT we have seen an even greater jump in the number of hours that could not be delivered because of a lack of capacity. Putting this right is vital for people waiting for care and support – without it, carers are having to take paid or unpaid leave from work or people are getting worse and ending up in hospital. That doesn’t make any sense and creates a vicious cycle.”
McClinton said it was time for all who need or provide care and support for older and disabled people to come together to decide what social care should offer in the 21st century
To read the speech in full, please see here.
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