Sara McKee, Founder of Evermore, responds to the Government’s new Plan for Health & Social Care announced on 7 September
This week Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled his solution to fixing health and social care, introducing a new levy that he claims will finally reform the social care system.
Yet only 15 percent (£1.8 billion) of the £12 billion raised per year will be allocated to social care with the rest going to the NHS to ‘tackle the backlog’ caused by the pandemic and chronic underfunding.
The Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid has refused to commit to any social care funding beyond three years, so all we’re left with is an £86,000 cap on social care costs which will only help a small minority, and is far higher than the cap proposed by Dilnot in 2011.
What’s more, placing a cap on social care costs doesn’t tackle the underlying problems. Health, housing and social care are interconnected and must be treated as one system with a pooled budget, focusing on helping people to age well so we keep them out of hospital and improve their long-term independence.
Innovation in care delivery is vital so we can finally eradicate facilities that institutionalise and dehumanise older people. I’m amazed local authorities are still commissioning care homes despite the fact older people don’t want them, and a large number of providers are consistently failing to meet acceptable standards.
We need a well-paid and well-trained workforce so we can finally attract more people to a career in social care and then keep them in it. After all, how can we improve access to high quality care without the right people in the right places at the right time?
And finally, we need an honest conversation about the rights and responsibilities of every individual to plan and pay for older age. The Dilnot report recognised this in 2011 with a number of recommendations including a public awareness campaign, greater information and advice from local authorities, and a partnership approach to funding where the individual contributes towards personal living costs and the rest is split between health and social care.
The PM has promised an integration paper later in the year, as well as a detailed plan to ‘enable Local Authorities and other providers to invest in technology, innovative methods of care and in their workforce.’ But we don’t need more papers to add to the growing collection gathering dust in Whitehall.
Make no mistake, the announcement essentially equates to a pandemic tax which will be used by the Government to get the NHS out of a hole. It is not a social care fix. So as usual, we won’t be holding our breath for the Government to solve social care. We’ll do it with like-minded colleagues and brave innovators who are prepared to break the current model and start again.
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