The findings of a care watchdog have confirmed the need for an urgent “root and branch” reform of the way we care for older and vulnerable people, providers said today.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says the Care Quality Commission’s report on the state of health and social care makes damning reading for the Government.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Here we have damning evidence that the crisis in social care has hampered its response to the Covid-19 pandemic and made it ever more vital that we have reform of the sector straight away.
“The dire state of social care – with providers struggling, 100,0000 staff vacancies a day, thousands going without care and poor staff morale – was not good preparation for the arrival of a pandemic.
“Covid-19 found social care exposed and the toll has been terrible: 15,646 people died from coronavirus in care and nursing homes between 28th December and 2nd October, a number that is rising by the day. We must never forget, these are people’s loved ones – a wife, a husband, a mother, a father, an aunt, an uncle, a brother, or a sister.
““Under-funded and neglected by government after government, coronavirus exposed a social care system that was already in crisis and plunged it into further despair.”
The CQC says: “In social care, COVID-19 has not only exposed but exacerbated existing problems. The sector, already fragile, faced significant challenges around access to PPE, testing and staffing – and coordinated support was less readily available than for the NHS. The long-standing need for reform, investment and workforce planning in adult social care has been thrown into stark relief by the pandemic.
“Today’s report makes clear that these issues need to be urgently addressed – underpinned by a new deal for the care workforce, which develops clear career progression, secures the right skills for the sector, better recognises and values staff, invests in their training and supports appropriate professionalisation.”
Mr Padgham added: “Reform is long overdue; the Prime Minister has repeatedly promised it and it is time to deliver. Unless we get more funding into the sector to support care, ease the staffing shortages and improve the terms and conditions of the staff providing amazing care, the sector will continue to be extremely fragile.”
The ICG wants to see:
- A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
- NHS care and social care to be merged and managed either locally or nationally
- Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation or National Insurance
- A guarantee that people receiving publicly funded care can receive it in their own home or close to where they live
- A commissioner for older people and those with Learning Disabilities in England
- A properly costed national rate for care fees linked to a national career pathway and salary framework for care staff
- Dementia treated like other high priority illnesses, like cancer and heart disease
- A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
- A cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ charges
- Local Enterprise Partnerships to prioritise social care
- A national scheme to ensure people save for their own care, as they do for a pension
- A new model of social care delivery based on catchment areas – like GPs
- Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT
- CQC to have much greater powers to oversee all commissioning practises such as per minute billing and 15-minute visits
- Less duplication of inspection between CQC and local authorities/CCGs
- Greater recognition of the role of the independent sector and utilisation of its expertise in the commissioning and delivery of social care
- Guaranteed equal partnership working through seats on Health and Well Being Boards, CCGs, and NHS
- Giving providers and CQC greater flexibility in delivering services
- Providing telemedicine incentives
- Allowing nurses and social care staff from overseas to work in the U.K. including lowering the salary cap
- Training and bursaries to encourage recruitment/end the shortage of nurses
- Long term measures to integrate older and younger people in care settings and change the perception of the generations
- Investment in research and development into new models of social care delivery
- Funding to help upgrade older care homes to maintain a range of choice for the public and investment in domiciliary care
- Funding for leadership training.