IN AN UNPRECEDENTED show of shared concern, organisations representing consumers, providers and commissioners of adult social care have called on government to make sure that the steady decline in resources available for older and disabled people is stopped.
Speaking together, ADASS, the Care and Support Alliance, the Care Provider Alliance and the NHS Confederation say: “The quality, safety and sufficiency of social care services are fundamental to a dignified society. However, the social care sector is in danger of a deepening crisis which is compromising the dignity, health and wellbeing of older and disabled people, their families and carers, the workforce as well as the economy.”
Their submission warns that:
* Fewer people are receiving state-funded care. This is leading to higher levels of unmet need displaced most likely to unpaid carers and the NHS. Additionally, providers say that people paying for their own care are paying more than those who are funded by the state.
* More people are living longer with more complex needs and this requires additionally trained and supported staff.
* The care market is fragile; councils have frozen fees and providers are exiting the market, with lenders delaying investment decisions in the care industry as they await the announcement of the spending review.
* The quality of care is being compromised across the sector.
* Sustaining a steady and reliable workforce is challenging. The announcement of the National Living Wage is welcome but needs to be funded.
* An efficient and effective NHS depends on a financially sustainable social care system.
The organisations end their SR submission by urging decision-makers in government to `listen to our message … and demonstrate the value that our country justly places on getting it right for disabled and older people who need its care and support.
“We want to see a transparent debate about the cost of, and funding for, sustainable care of a decent quality.” They go on to urge Government to ensure that social care funding is protected, including making provision for the funding gap which will have grown in social care funding by 2020, alongside the £8 billion gap in NHS funding over the same period.
Ray James, President of ADASS said: “It is vitally important that this year’s Spending Review understands the importance of our services to vulnerable people; the significance of a well-funded, collaborative and integrated social care service has for the NHS, and the near-certainty that without adequate and sustained finances our ability to carry out our Care Act duties to maintain a viable home and residential market will be in jeopardy.”
Frank Ursell, representing the Care Providers Alliance, said: “The unprecedented scale and severity of the financial challenges facing the whole of the social care sector are such that we, the providers of services, have joined with the local authorities that commission those services to call on the government for urgent help.
“This means both protecting social care funding from any further budget cuts at a national level, and taking steps to bridge the significant and fast-worsening funding gap that will hit the entire sector over the next five years unless corrective action is taken now.
“Collectively, we deliver essential care to some of the most vulnerable people in society. To meet the growing needs of an ageing population, to achieve and maintain the necessary quality standards, to recruit and retain nurses and other care staff, and to create a sustainable financial model of care for the future, the government must act quickly and decisively.
“Doing nothing is simply not an option if this country is to honour its obligations to older people and adults of all ages with mental health problems and disabilities.”
Vicky McDermott, chair of the Care and Support Alliance, said: “The CSA has long been concerned about the crisis facing the social care system and the impact this is having on disabled and older people, as well as carers and family members.
“Chronic underfunding of social care has seen dramatic year-on-year rationing of support for older and disabled people and their carers, excluding hundreds of thousands of people from the support they desperately need.
“Investment in care is not only the right thing to do for some of the most vulnerable in society, but also makes economic sense as it will help ease the challenges faced by the NHS and other public services.
“The Government must take leadership on this issue and use the spending review in November to address the crisis in care. If something is not done now, the crisis around social care and unmet need is just going to get worse.”
Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “Funding for health and social care is no longer keeping pace with public demand and it’s vital that this doesn’t put patients at risk. These services desperately need a sustainable, long-term financial settlement to avoid a real crisis and to help them plan and invest as wisely as possible. We have called for that commitment from the Treasury – including appropriate funding for social care. Having a shiny NHS cog will be no good in a broken health and care machine.
“Eighty-seven per cent of NHS leaders told us they want a five-year financial commitment from the Government on health and social care. And ninety-two per cent said funding cuts in social care were also having a negative knock-on effect on their own organisations and their services for patients.
“All these services are interconnected and all need greater financial certainty to build the new models of care outlined in NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.”