The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has set out three recommendations to address the “devastating impact” that COVID-19 has had on the social care system.
In a new report, published today, SCIE lists the priorities for reform, dubbed the ‘three shifts’, which it believes need to be implemented in order to build a sector that is financially sustainable and fair to access; preventative in focus; and supported by a well-paid and supported workforce.
Early on in the crisis, SCIE explored the impact of COVID-19 on the sector, both negative and positive, drawing out lessons and implications for social care reform.
It also examined – and talked to the sector about – what’s needed to improve social care in the future, once we have emerged from the worst of the pandemic.
The report draws on a series of essays and podcasts from sector leaders and a roundtable attended by Helen Whately MP, Minister of State for Social Care; along with learning from SCIE’s wider work with the sector.
The three shifts are:
- Shift 1: From hand-to-mouth to long-term and sustainable funding. We simply can’t go on like this, and call on the Government to for a fair and long-term funding settlement for social care.
- Shift 2: To shift investment and focus away from remedial and acute services towards prevention. To assist with this shift, introduce innovation funds which for the sector to scale up the most effective preventative models of care, housing and technology
- Shift 3: From workforce low pay, low recognition and poor conditions, towards higher pay, better conditions, progression and development – and parity of esteem with the NHS.
SCIE is also calling for a long-term plan for social care, mirroring the NHS Long Term Plan. It is urging the government and other sector bodies to consider these proposals, as they develop their thinking on the long-term plan and other strategies to boost the sector.
SCIE chief executive Kathryn Smith (pictured) said: “Since I became a care worker at 16, I have never known a worse period for social care. Every day, as more reports came in about deaths that could have been prevented, lack of testing kit and personal protective equipment, or local authorities and providers facing financial ruin, I’ve felt a sense of despair.
“However, I am also reminded every day of the enormous resilience, versatility, passion and empathy of the care workforce, and within wider communities. And I ask myself, can we come out of this undoubted crisis stronger? I think we can.”
SCIE chair Paul Burstow said: “I hope that Government and sector leaders find this report a source of inspiration and ideas for turning that vision for social care into a reality, one that gets us Beyond COVID-19. As ever, SCIE stands ready to support the sector with its journey to a better place.”
Contributing to the report, Sir Andrew Dilnot, who was asked to lead a cross-party commission on Funding for Care and Support in 2010, said he believes the social care sector will continue to move towards looking after people in their homes going forward. “But, if that is to work, we will move people into homes which work better; new homes purpose built, or adapted for it…New and exciting ways of looking after people in their own homes. More reliance on technology, monitoring people’s conditions,” he added.
And SCIE heard about the potential of community-based, preventive model of care.
Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing said: “The solutions are already out there and this crisis has helped reveal the value of micro-enterprises, the wide range of communities’ different assets, mutual aid, and innovative housing arrangements in supporting people, to name a few examples.
“These solutions feel infinitely more ‘human’ and are infinitely preferable to some of the more traditional services on offer.”