A leading figure in social care is to call for the country to hold a referendum on the way older and vulnerable adults are cared for in this country.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group, will also tell social care providers that it is time for action on a crisis that is harming social care and heaping further strain on the NHS.
Speaking to a conference in Harrogate today, Mr Padgham will say: “Can we have a referendum on social care and ask the country if it wants to pay a little more so that our older citizens – and that will include all of us soon enough – can have some proper care in our later years?”
Across the country, care homes are closing and homecare providers are handing back contracts as the financial squeeze on social care providers continues. Bodies, including the Care Quality Commission and Association of Director of Social Services (ADASS) are warning that social care is at “tipping point”.
A quarter of care homes in the UK – about 5,000 – are said to be in danger of going out of business, after 3,000 homes closed in the six months up to September 2015. The Number of nursing homes fell from 4,697 to 4,633 in 2015-2016 – the first decline in five years.
Mr Padgham will tell delegates: “Who takes the blame for the mess social care is in and the consequent huge burden it is adding to NHS healthcare?
“The Prime Minister for failing to address social care? Should it be the Government minister for failing to speak up for the cause? Should it be council officers and councillors? Do we all share some of the blame for failing to care for the country’s most vulnerable?”
The Independent Care Group is calling for the sector to make more noise and for more funding to be put into social care, for greater use to be made of independent providers and for social care to be merged with NHS care, to ensure proper ‘cradle to grave’ care provision.
The conference will take as its theme the recruitment and retention of care staff. This has been highlighted in recent weeks by discussions over Brexit and the impact the country leaving the EU will have on social care’s ability to recruit staff from abroad.
Keynote speaker Neil Eastwood, founder of award-winning recruitment experts Sticky People, will be giving advice on how to get the right staff and keep them.
The conference is being held at the Pavilions of Harrogate conference venue and is open to anyone working in or supplying the social care sector across the North Yorkshire and York region. It will be chaired by the Guardian’s public services editor, David Brindle.