The residential and domiciliary care provider featured significantly in the programme, which concentrated on the social care funding challenges faced by Somerset County Council and the impact on the lives of residents, their families and care operators.
A spokesperson for Somerset Care said: “These films concentrate on the lack of funding for adult social care and the need to reform the system, and very powerfully highlight the impact this has on the people that rely on organisations like us for support.
“Somerset County Council made the brave decision to invite the cameras in, and as their biggest provider, Somerset Care felt it was important to support them in raising such an important issue.”
Somerset Care said the documentary highlighted how care providers were “stuck between a rock and a hard place” in striving to provide “essential services to people who are reliant on our support when the funding often doesn’t even cover our costs”.
Hilary Crowhurst, Executive Director of Operations and Development at learning disability care provider Hft, commented: “The second half of Panorama’s documentary series on social care showed the human cost of a social care system in need of reform.
“As well as focusing on the challenges faced by individuals and families involved in receiving social care, and the financial difficulties being faced by local authorities, we also saw how providers are struggling to cope in a challenging financial climate. The documentary showed the hard choices made as fees continue to fall – whether that is not being able to invest in the future of services, or the devastating impacts on staff and the people we support, should a provider be forced to hand a contract back to local authorities.
“Hft’s own Sector Pulse Check report showed that 59% of social care providers have had to hand back contracts to local authorities in the past year due to financial pressures. As a charity that has contracts with over 120 local authorities, we see the challenges being faced by Somerset Council and by the providers featured, being repeated across the country.
“However, it was disappointing that the documentary focused largely on care for older people. Learning disability support accounts for over one-third of adult social care spend in England and it is the fastest growing. In Somerset alone, it accounts for 20% of their total adult social care spend. Unlike older people, social care for working age adults does not have self-funders, and so we are funded almost entirely by the local authorities for the vital support we provide to adults with learning disabilities.
“Over the past two weeks, Panorama has done more to raise awareness of the challenges being faced by the social care sector than any of our leading politicians. We need to look at adult social care in all of its parts – working age adults as well as the elderly. This is a national crisis that requires a national solution.
“It is clear that the current system is simply not delivering the best outcomes for anybody involved in social care. With the continued delays to the government green paper, providers, commissioners, families and people supported by the sector need to work together to find innovative and sustainable solutions to the challenges we face.”