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Behind The Scenes: Inside The PM’s Discussions With Social Care Leaders

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak were greeted by Excelcare Chairman, Osman Ertosun and Chief Operating Officer, Sam Manning, during a recent visit to one of Excelcare’s 32-care homes.

On arrival, Mr Johnson joked how hard it is to get one minister in the room, let alone all three, before entering discussions around the need for a long-term solution for social care.

During the group’s discussions, Boris Johnson advised that he would later that day be making a statement on the government’s plans for health and social care and that this would recognise the vital role that care homes have played in keeping people safe and well during the pandemic.

Osman said he was delighted to hear this as people should be able to receive high-quality care in their chosen environment and agreed that a long-term sustainable funding solution was an important part of this change, to enable care providers to deliver the quality of care required, with support from commissioners.

Sam was able to speak to the ministers not just as the Chief Operating Officer for Excelcare but also from the perspective of a care home resident’s family member, as her father lives with dementia in a care home. Sam was able to speak openly about the difficulty her family had faced given the heart-breaking decision to move her dad into a care home during a pandemic, along with the difficulty they had trying to get funding support for his care home placement. Sam added that throughout the challenging and unprecedented time the frontline team members continued to deliver compassionate care to her dad, keeping him as safe as possible even during such an emotional and challenging time for the team.

Speaking from a professional level – Sam then went on to explain how COVID-19 has magnified key problems in the care sector; occupancy has fallen, and challenges around workforce has widened due to the impact of the vaccine policy. This policy means people working in registered care homes are required to be vaccinated against COVID-19 from 11 November 2021, and coupled with the tougher immigration rules, makes workforce challenges even more pronounced.

Osman echoed Sam’s view and added that he hoped the PM’s announcement would bring additional funding to help stabilise the current adult social care system that was already in a challenging position before the COVID-19 pandemic. He also stated his hopes for this funding to be ring-fenced across the local authorities to enable a fair fee system that covers the true cost of delivering quality care for all, whilst also being able to reward frontline team members with better pay rates.

The three ministers gave a brief insight advising that the announcement meant that £36 billion would be interjected to help reform the NHS and Social Care, ensuring it has the long-term resource it needs and there would be further announcements around expanding the COVID-vaccine to become compulsory for the NHS. Since this visit took place, the government has launched an open consultation on plans to make vaccination compulsory for frontline health teams.