The UK Government has today (1 December) published a 10 year plan to reform social care, with disabled people’s organisations voicing concerns.
The white paper, titled ‘People at the Heart of Care’, is part of the governments wider social care plans and details what help will be provided for people who receive and provide care.
The changes to the social care system will apply to people in both residential and at home care and sets daily living costs at a lower rate than originally proposed with the aim of helping people to save more money. It is hoped that this will mean nobody is forced to sell their homes to pay for care.
As part of the white paper, the government is outlining further details on how more than £1 billion will be spent on system reform over the next three years.
This includes funding to adapt homes and improve the physical, digital and technological infrastructure of the sector.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid says: “The pandemic has been an important turning point for social care, putting into the spotlight the incredible work the sector delivers day in and day out and highlighting the urgent need for change.
“This ten-year vision clearly lays out how we will make the system fairer and better to serve everyone, from the millions of people receiving care to those who are providing it.
“We are investing in our country’s future – boosting support to help people live at home with their families for longer and ensuring that health and care work hand in hand so people get the help they need.”
Within the white paper, the government outlines an increase in funding in housing investment to allow local authorities to offer greater choice, care and support, totalling £300 million. This fits alongside a new practical service to make repairs and changes in homes to help people remain safe and either stay with their families or live independently.
New technology and digitisation will be backed by at least £150 million to improve care quality and safety, support independent living and allow staff to provide focused care where it is needed. Digital care records will also be updated to make sure all caregivers have up-to-date details to provide the best support possible.
A record £500 million investment will be made to give the adult social care workforce a chance to progress in their careers with training and qualifications. This funding will prioritise wellbeing with greater support for mental health.
The wider reform programme also includes:
- £70 million to assist local authorities and improve the delivery and standard of care.
- An increase to the upper limit of the Disabled Facilities Grant for home adaptations such as stairlifts, wetrooms and home technologies to allow people to live where they want to and increase the options for care.
- Up to £25 million to work with the sector to kickstart a change in the services provided to support unpaid carers, to boost support and increase access to respite services giving them much needed support and a break.
- A new national website to provide easily accessible information for the public on social care and at least £5 million to pilot new ways to help people understand and access the care and support available.
With the release of the white paper, charities and organisations in the disabled community are voicing their thoughts and concerns on the reform:
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:
“This top level visionary White Paper sets out the Government’s direction of travel for the reform of adult social care. Care England stands ready to help the government deliver this strategy by identifying and dismantling some of the barriers standing in the way of delivering this vision.
“Delivering this White Paper is going to be very difficult because of some of the major challenges facing the care sector, but we are all committed to starting on a journey that will deliver better outcomes for citizens and long-term sustainability for social care providers.”
Edel Harris, Chief Executive of the learning disability charity Mencap, says:
“There’s a lot to like in ‘People at the Heart of Care’ which sets out a clear, person centred vision for our future care system. The emphasis on personalisation, fairness and choice; recognition of rising unmet need; and focus on working age disabled adults and, in particular, people with a learning disability, are all evident here. We are also pleased to see measures to strengthen links with housing, reform Local Authority commissioning and make navigating the system easier.
“However, although the £1.7 billion sounds like a lot, very little of it will find its way to the people who use and give care every day. There is a significant amount of work still to do so that people with a learning disability get the right support now. We are facing a very tough winter, with many people not getting the care they need and not enough care workers to help them. We urgently need some solutions now or there will be no social care system to fix in the future.”
Leonard Cheshire Director of Policy Gemma Hope says:
“The white paper sets out ambitions for the future of social care, but the government now needs to match that with funding, and work with those who draw on care to make it a reality.
“Good quality social care empowers disabled people to have independence, choice, and control over their lives. It’s essential for working age disabled adults, who make up half of all recipients. It can make employment, education, leisure and socialising possible. But far too often, disabled people are kept waiting or miss out entirely on this vital provision.
“The pandemic showed how vital social care is, but the sector has been repeatedly undermined by chronic underfunding.
“Challenges around recruitment and retention are leading staff to leave social care roles in large numbers. Improving the appeal of social care as a career, with clearer routes for progression, rightly plays a central role in proposed reforms. But substantial funding is needed to deliver this as any reforms are meaningless without financial backing for the sector.
“Tailored, social care support for disabled people is possible and should be the norm wherever you live. The Government has set its sights on a vision in which care packages offer greater flexibility and choice, one in which technology can potentially also play a bigger role. This is undoubtedly the way forward but further consultation with disabled people is needed to determine how to make this vision a reality.
“The plan is ambitious, but far greater funding than currently committed will be required. Modern social care is an economic force for good and its recipients deserve the investment needed to meet their daily needs and further the ambitions of working age disabled adults particularly.”
Sense Chief Executive, Richard Kramer, says:
“Unfortunately today’s White Paper does not address the major issues within the social care system, which have existed for years and have been worsened by the pandemic, and which this Government promised to fix.
“While we welcome the White Paper’s vision for the future of social care, particularly the commitment to invest in supported housing, the plans must be backed up with immediate investment to address the unmet needs of those who use social care, including disabled people. Without immediate funding, none of these plans will be able to be realised and the system will just continue to firefight, with the social care crisis worsening instead of being fixed.
“Disabled people haven’t been getting the support they need, families have been caring for disabled loved ones without any respite and the workforce is burnt out.
“Government must take action now and commit to urgent and meaningful funding for social care so that disabled people have the care and support they need.”
Phillip Anderson, Head of Policy and Evidence at the MS Society says:
“Today’s White Paper on social care reform sets out a positive vision for what social care should look like, with a number of welcome measures to improve care. But sadly, it does not go far enough to fix our broken care system and make this vision a reality.
“For too long, millions of people – including many with MS – have struggled to access the basic care they need to manage their condition and live independently. We know that 1.5 million hours of essential home care were not delivered between August and October this year.
“The white paper will not change this situation. The Government needsto go further if they want to truly fix social care. That requires an urgent injection of cash to deal with the colossal backlog of people with unmet care needs who urgently require support, and increasing care worker pay.”