The King’s Fund has published a think-piece setting out its ideas for social care reform.
Outlining a three-point plan for reviving the sector, the think-tank describes the scale of deaths in care homes from Covid-19 as “a national tragedy”. It notes that the compared to the same period last year, the total number of excess deaths in care homes has exceeded 29,000.
As a first measure, the King’s Fund calls for government to urgently address short-term funding pressures to stabilise the fragile provider market, including supporting an increase in the amount local authorities can pay for care.
Additional actions include:
- Longer-term investment and reform to support greater equity of access, remove unwarranted variation, and address fragmentation across the NHS and social care
- Better pay, conditions and training for the social care workforce, through central funding, regulation and legislation.
Reviewing the experience of COVID-19 in care homes, the King’s Fund concludes that challenges obtaining adequate PPE, testing and financial support; difficulties in co-ordinating the response across a fragmented sector; longer-term weaknesses resulting from years of under-investment and workforce shortages; and rapid discharges from hospitals to care homes early in the pandemic combined to make it difficult for care providers to keep staff and services users safe services safe.
It says: “Despite strong international evidence that social care settings were at high risk from serious infection, the sector was treated as an afterthought by government at the start of the pandemic. Despite widespread agreement on the need for reform and numerous commissions and inquiries, successive governments have failed to bring forward solutions. It is imperative that the experience of Covid-19 be a line in the sand.”