Industry leaders have welcomed the Care Quality Commission’s warning that social care is approaching ‘a tipping point’.
Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England said: “‘Despite the excellent work of social care workers and managers, underfunding is damaging the sector. The current funding settlement entirely disregards demographic change, the pressure on the market, and the impact on people receiving care.
“As CQC highlights, more and more people are living with unmet needs for care, and more providers are pulling out of unaffordable caring activities like nursing.
“The fragility of the market cannot be overstated – as this week’s media coverage has also shown, providers are being put in a perilous position by a lack of political will to meet the funding needs of social care. The CQC is a trusted voice, and is right to use its role to highlight sector difficulties. Now the government must take heed and action to reverse a trend of gradual but definite erosion of this sector, a lifeline for many vulnerable people.”
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This is the second warning in less than a month that social care is in dire straits. The CQC highlights a system unable to sustain itself, consequently failing many of the people with dementia it serves.
“Each successive report echoes what we hear from people with dementia and their families – from the devoted husband who must choose between having a hot meal and paying his wife’s care home top-up fees, to the 94-year old grandmother in hospital with infections due to poor personal care.
“With the NHS rising to the top of voters’ priorities, the knock-on effect from an underfunded social care system is clear. The NHS and social care go hand-in-hand – we cannot fix one if the other remains broken. Social care urgently needs a solid financial grounding before this entire house of cards falls.”
The Independent Care Group chair, Mike Padgham said: “We have been arguing for years that social care across the country is in crisis. Generations of under-funding, exacerbated by the economic downturn have left the care of our oldest and most vulnerable citizens in tatters.
“Millions of pounds have been cut from social care by cash-strapped local authorities in recent years and it is inevitable that standards are going to fall and providers leave the sector. These statistics from the inspection body make grim reading, but unless we can bring reform to social care, the situation is going to get worse.”
“We have to get round the table and look at how we provide better care for people. If that means merging NHS and social care and if that means we have to look at raising more through taxes or National Insurance, then so be it – people are suffering and this cannot be allowed to go on.”
Head of Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, Professor Rhidian Hughes said: “Great social care enables people to live the life they choose. But providers cannot deliver high quality care at any cost. Unless we balance disabled people’s needs with sufficient funding we jeopardise day-to-day support and quality of life for 11.9 million people in this country. It is imperative that Government uses the Autumn Statement to put things right for social care.”
Stephen Dalton, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “The report shows that the NHS is being stretched to the limit, especially after additional pressure caused by ongoing cuts to social care, mental health and public health.
“Public spending plans are becoming less realistic by the day and it’s crucial that the upcoming Autumn Spending Review addresses this crisis.
“A major concern is the sustainability of social care provision. The CQC report exposes that one consequence of cuts to social care is a “race to the bottom” when awarding contracts to care providers. This means contracts are being handed back and providers withdrawing from this market.”
Janet Morrison, chief executive of Independent Age, the older people’s charity said: “This report is the first time we have had a truly comprehensive picture of what is happening in social care, and it is a grim picture. The report, covering 20,000 inspections, lays bare the fact that nearly one in three social care organisations are rated as needing improvement or inadequate.
“While we recognise that there are examples of excellent practice, it is alarming that weaker care providers are not getting any better. We are seeing services failing, problems recruiting a workforce with the right skills, and providers seemingly resistant to improvement. We need urgent action to address this failing, to ensure that we have a health and care sector where no one is left behind.”