People who provide social care in South Holland call on Government to reveal more details about reforms
Calls have been made for the Government to provide greater clarity over its plans to fix the ‘broken’ social care system following years of under funding.
People working in social care have welcomed the announcement that the Government is planning to reform social care by including it within the recent Queen’s Speech.
For many elderly and vulnerable people and their families, social care is a lifeline as it enables them to either live independently at home or be looked after by dedicated staff in a safe home.
Carers can provide a wealth of services from helping a client with personal care, such as washing, support with meals and other support.
But it also plays an important part in the smooth running of the NHS as patients who cannot be discharged safely will have to stay in hospital for longer which can create bed pressures.
According to NHS digital, in January 2011, Lincolnshire had a total of 48 acute patients with a delayed transfer of care with 62 reported in January 2017. The reporting changed in January 2019 when the county recorded a total of 1,146 delayed days for acute patients.
Funding, career paths and how the services are commissioned are among the challenges faced by the social care industry.
We have spoken to Lincolnshire County Council and care providers to find out reforms they feel should happen...
Funding to match the NHS is needed
Lincolnshire County Council looks after 32,000 people each year with services ranging from nursing care to helping people to live independently.
The council has received £73.41 million funding to provide social care services for 2020/21 and £78.08 million funding for 2021/22.
Now the council is calling for a long term plan and an end to quick fixes.
Executive councillor for Adult Care and Public Health Wendy Bowkett said: “We’ve heard strong messages from the Prime Minister indicating the desire to have a long term plan for social care and provide a sustainable method for future funding, which is good news. However, it’s disappointing that the Queen’s Speech only hints at some future plan sometime in the future and there is no detail on what that will look like. After many years of austerity in social care coupled with short term funding ‘fixes’, there really does need to be some certainty and confidence behind much needed reforms.
“We have worked hard in Lincolnshire to protect frontline services and ensure people who need support receive good quality services in the right place at the right time. Despite some budget pressures, we have avoided any overspend for the last nine years, unlike many other councils, while maintaining quality standards.
“A long-term funding plan from government would be welcome to give further opportunities in areas such as services that help people remain independent, specialist housing and more use of digital technology. A long-term plan and funding for social care to mirror that already in place for the NHS is greatly needed.”
Terminally ill client lived beyond 12 weeks funding
A terminally ill patient is now having to pay for her own care after living beyond her 12 weeks funding period.
Lincolnshire Home Care looks after 110 clients, aged between 18 to 101, by providing a range of services from personal care, cleaning to end of life care.
A statement from the company said: “A client is totally bed bound and was on Palliative list. This client out lived their predicted 12 weeks so funding was withdrawn with 14 days notice and the client now pays for their own care even though she is still bed bound.
“If the Government is looking at funding these reforms through more taxes we would like to see a cap placed on the taxes of those working in the social care sector, as many of us have worked tirelessly through the pandemic across the board.
“We are very excited to see change to the social care sector coming as it is long overdue. It is important, we feel, to keep the clients at the centre of everything that happens.
“With this in mind we feel that care workers should be given a higher rate of pay and until the central government up the amount spent on social care this is not feasible, We would all like to see care workers earn more in their pay packets for a job well done.”
Honest, open debate is needed
The owner of the Abbeygate Care Home in Crowland says an honest debate is needed on the reform.
Ian Canham has welcomed the inclusion in the Queen’s Speech but was disappointed that a radical solution was not put forward.
He said: “The decline of the system has not happened overnight; it has happened over a number of years and during the watch of all three political parties at times.
“Central government has starved the system of funding and forward vision and left local authorities to make the best of a broken system – the pandemic has brought this to the fore and has at least made more people aware of the need to find a workable solution that offers everyone access to adequate care when they need it.
“In our opinion the system is broken in a number of ways, from the funding of the care to the pay structure of those working in the industry. Any solution that tries to pass the problem on to the public more will always leave people falling through the gaps left just like any solution which looks to throw money at the problem without a coherent plan of how the system can be repaired will fall down after the short fix has worn off.
“There is no way we could be that presumptuous to think we have answers to all the problems; the solution will only become clear after honest open debate involving all stakeholders.
“We at Abbeygate look forward to taking an active part in the debate on the way forward and look forward to engagement with the policy makers as soon as possible.”
Spend 1p on social care to bring NHS savings
Spending more on social care will bring about more savings in the NHS says the chairman of Lincolnshire Care Association.
Melanie Weatherley says that she is not surprised that more detail has not been revealed.
She said that social care is an ‘unusual beast’ as it is not part of the NHS or local government but requires more funding and staff.
Melanie said: “If you spend 1p on social care, you could save 25p in the NHS.
“Delayed discharges would not be a problem if there were enough support to keep people in care homes. A care home with nursing probably has everything you would get in a hospital.”
She also highlighted that the county currently has around 7,000 home care support workers but needs 25% more - adding that it is the ‘Cinderella of the Cinderella service’.
Melanie said: “Home care support workers are now supporting people that would have been in a residential home five years ago. It is becoming more and more complex but the biggest problem is that you only get paid for the time you are in someone’s home, not in the gap between calls.
“I think social care needs to be commissioned differently. It needs to be commissioned, not as part of the NHS but alongside it. It needs to be recognised that if you get social care right, you will probably need less medical care.”