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CARE VIRTUAL SUMMIT: COVID-19 an opportunity for real change, say care leaders 

Care Virtual Summit

Care home leaders have called on the government to use the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity for far-reaching reform of the sector.

The calls came during a panel discussion featuring Robert Kilgour, chairman of Renaissance Care, Ram Goyal, MD of Hallmark Care Homes, Yvonne Hignell, COO of Cera Care, Andy Hogarth, CEO of Helping Hands, Simon Monaghan, CEO of MHA, and Jeremy Walford, MD of Middleton Retirement Village, hosted by Simon Parker, founder of SP&P.

Jeremy said: “There is a real opportunity to make a change to the way social care operates in the future with far better quality care models.”

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The MD predicted a growth in extra care and focus on smaller residential care services as a result of the pandemic.

Sam said COVID-19 presented a “key and potentially defining moment” for the sector and it was time to be “big and brave” on reform.

“We need to make this become a sector that people want to come into,” he added.

Robert said he was “pretty positive that seismic change” was coming for the sector. “We need to get on with it,” he stressed.

“There is a unique opportunity to fix things and create better care for the vulnerable,” he noted.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has set out his goal of putting forward social care reforms this year.

Former David Cameron advisor Baroness Camilla Cavendish has been contracted by the government to lead on the development of social care reforms with the Department of Health and Social Care.

While the government has denied a report it plans to merge health and social care, possible reforms are believed to include the introduction of a social care tax for the over 40s.

Jeremy said the required “big changes in people, skills and training” necessitated a “change in which the sector is funded”.

Speaking earlier during the summit, Professor Martin Green OBE, CEO of Care England, called for local authorities to be taken out of the care space so that money could be delivered directly to citizens.

Martin said social care must be seen as a career with “proper salaries and remuneration packages” and called for competencies and skills frameworks to be aligned with the NHS.

The Care England CEO also urged the government to introduce a social care Infrastructure Fund to invest in new buildings and to ensure the sector can respond more quickly and appropriately to future crises.

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The author Lee Peart

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