6 - 7 July 2022

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News & Press Releases


25 Apr 2022

The Immediate Challenges Facing the Social Care System

National Care Association Stand: E55

It would be fair to say that social care provision sits on the edge of a very slippery slope at the present time. After decades of neglect and empty promises by successive governments, providers face the stark reality that the cavalry is not coming around the mountain any time soon! As a service industry which delivers care and support to those who need it at critical times of their lives, one would think that the value attached to it would be much higher than it is. The fragility of the sector is well documented by qualified and learned researchers and commentators and yet the evidence is regularly dismissed by those who can instigate the changes. The holding response over the past decades has been to create commissions and taskforces to report on that which we already know!


The pressure on providers over the past decades has been to move from just social care support to delivering ever more complex health care to those who traditionally would have sought it from the NHS, but sadly the increase in fees to deliver this has been non-existent. The same individual in an NHS setting costs the state three times as much as if they were in a social care setting, so the question is why is social care being abused thus by the system. Providers invest in the services to improve not only the quality of the care they provide through a highly skilled workforce, but also hotel-like accommodation with amenities like hair dressing salons, café’s, cinema’s etc. our workforce is delivering care and support which often is greater than that of an HCA in an NHS setting but we in social care are funded by commissioners to pay our skilled teams based on a National Living Wage which sit below the NHS pay gradings.


The workforce crisis in our sector has been exacerbated by decisions made by this government over the past few years. Firstly, we faced a mass exodus of our European colleague’s post Brexit and then mid-Covid the decision to make vaccinations a condition of employment for care homes only, saw a steady seepage into the NHS where no such condition applied: the point where it was decided to do so, the government was forced to make a humiliating U-turn to save the NHS from losing their staff. Much has been made of funding that has been made available to support social care, but these have been short term grants which create precedents so when the funding, like the Infection Prevention Control Fund, are ended the expectation is that providers will continue the support without any additional funding.


The critical moment for social care is based on the promise of a Fair Funding for Care exercise which the government has laid down for Local Authorities to carry out. This will be a foundation for the much talked about reform promised. Before we get too excited, we must take a sharp intake of breath to and realise that the Levy promised to Fix Social Care is an illusion as what we see and what we get will be two very different things. The reality is that any money raised by the NI levy will go to the NHS first and foremost to stabilise them and we as social care workforce and businesses will be paying into it from our hard-earned wages – yes, the fragile social care will be paying to support our colleagues in the NHS. Once we get into a year or eighteen months of the monies raised, only then, if we are lucky, will we see anything of the promised funds which are limited. So, is there light at the end of a tunnel of empty promises? There has to be because without it, those who need care and support will have been failed by this government like those before them.


Author - Nadra Ahmed OBE - Chair of the National Care Association

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