Call for social care to have NHS-style ‘national treasure status’

26 Oct 18

The government must start a campaign to raise the profile of adult social care so people are prepared to pay for it - as many do not know what it is, an umbrella-group has revealed.

Half (48%) of adults in England have little or no understanding of what the term ‘social care’ means, according to an Local Government Association-commissioned poll.

Ian Hudspeth, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “With low public awareness of social care and people’s preparedness for how to pay for it, it is more important than ever that the government get on and publish their green paper, start a massive campaign to raise awareness of what social care is and don’t duck the big issues on funding. We need bold solutions and we need them now.”

The government social care green paper was due to come out in the summer but was delayed until this autumn, to be released at the same time as the NHS 10-year plan.

Hudspeth added: “If we are to truly tackle adult social care, we must aspire to social care having a similar ‘national treasure’ status as the NHS, with similar levels of awareness and understanding about what social care is and why it matters.”

This comes as NHS Digital data, published on Tuesday, showed the number of new requests for social care in England went up by 1.6% to 1.8 million in 2017-18 from the year before.

Gross expenditure by local authorities on adult social care was £17.9bn in 2017-18 – an increase of 2.3% from £17.5bn in 2016-17.

A New Local Government Network think-tank survey of 198 council leaders and chief executives in the UK, released yesterday, found confidence in their capacity to deliver social care had plummeted by 20% since March.

NLGN director Adam Lent said adult social care was “now in a state of crisis”.

“Leaving aside the appalling human cost, it is daft to spend billions of extra pounds on the NHS while social care goes to the wall,” Lent said.

The think-tank has urged the government to put a portion of the NHS’s £20.5bn a year towards social care.

The LGA poll, conducted by BritainThinks, found 50% of English adults say that they have never thought about how they will pay for care when they get older and only 15% saying they have made any plans for how they will pay for this care.

“Staggeringly, 5% of people have never heard of the term ‘social care’ at all” the LGA said.

The poll, which surveyed 1,741 adults in England, established that 44% of people think social care is provided by the NHS and 28% think it is free at the point of access.

Councils ‘buying homecare services on the cheap’                                                        

Analysis, published yesterday by the UK Homecare Association, a trade association for home care providers, said that councils in Britain (and social care trusts in Northern Ireland) are “buying homecare services for older people on the cheap”.

Homecare, paid for by councils, provides vulnerable people with assistance in daily tasks like washing and feeding but councils are not paying enough for “effective services” the umbrella group for care providers warned.

UKHCA took freedom of information data from 211 local government bodies and found that average prices for homecare in the UK is just £16.12 per hour, but the group suggest the minimum price should be £18.01 per hour.

Colin Angel, UKHCA’s policy director, said: “Rates paid by the majority of authorities do not cover adequate wages for our vital homecare workforce and the costs of running safe and effective services.

“The governments of each of the four UK nations need to look at our findings and fund care properly. Continuing to muddle-on as they have done for a decade is not sustainable.”

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