A major report has concluded that social care in the UK is under pressure as never before with some providers close to collapse.
The report from the King’s Fund and Nuffield Health also found that increasing numbers of older people are not receiving the help they need and that access to care depends increasingly on what people can afford and where they live rather than what they need.
Entitled ‘Home Truths’, the report says under investment in primary and community NHS services is undermining the policy objective of keeping people independent and out of residential care. The Care Act 2014 has created new demands and expectations but funding has not kept pace. Local authorities have little room to make further savings, and most will soon be unable to meet basic statutory duties.
The report’s authors suggest policy makers need to address three major challenges over the next five years:
- Achieve more with fewer resources through better commissioning and integrated care
- Establish a more explicit policy framework, which makes it clear that primary responsibility for funding care sits with individuals and families
- Reform the long-term funding of social care because reliance on additional private funding is unlikely to be sufficient or equitable
Commenting on the report, Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England said: “Adult social care is a huge challenge for this Government. This report reaffirms what providers have been telling us: that without adequate resources the sector will simply crumble.
“It is dangerous to underestimate the potential role and capacity of the independent sector in supporting NHS sustainability and reducing delayed discharge numbers, which continue to rise.
“It is clear that the social care precept has not delivered what it was meant to, raising less than two thirds of the costs of the National Living Wage, and that the Better Care Fund hasn’t reached social care provision. ADASS has shown that the system needs at least £1 billion, each year until the end of this parliament, simply to maintain the status quo.
“Providers are willing to work with politicians and commissioners, but this goodwill needs to extend to action in order that those in our care can continue to rely on the availability of the high quality care that they need and deserve. The King’s Fund has shown definitively that underfunding, combined with shortages of nurses and care workers, is putting unprecedented strain on providers.”
The National Care Association highlighted the challenges of recruitment and retention of social care staff despite the introduction of the NLW. Nadra Ahmed, chairman, (left) believes that in addition to the financial dilemma this is a potentially crippling issue for social care where the need for registered managers, qualified nurses and auxiliary staff is one of its biggest challenges.
“Provider confidence in their ability to deliver quality care services to some of the most vulnerable people in our society, people with ever increasing and complex health and social care needs is being undermined,” she said. “We are fearful that one of the greatest unintended consequences of national and local government policy relating to social care will create a two-tier care system. Providers are beginning to recognise that to maintain standards they will need to explore the option of having exclusively privately funded clients, which would leave a huge gap for commissioners to grapple with.”