This week’s Kings Fund /Nuffield Trust report, Social Care for Older People, paints a bleak picture of the future of the sector, highlighting reductions in how much local authorities pay care homes, meaning that some care providers are on the brink of collapse, which would leave vulnerable people at risk.
This latest report follows the NCA report ‘The Care Crash’ published by the National Care Associations in July 2016, which warned of the sector facing a potentially ‘perfect storm’; reductions in how much local authorities pay care homes cuts, shortages of nurses and care workers, the introduction of the national living wage (NLW) for staff and an increasing reliance on people who can self-pay, putting many care homes under unprecedented pressure.
Care Sector crippled by unprecedented pressures:
The Kings Fund/Nuffield Trust Report recognises that ‘signs of provider stress are increasing’, with two thirds of local authorities reporting home closures in their localities over the past 6 months. It also highlights the fact that 28% of care homes are ‘at risk of financial failure’. The landscape for home-care services is also highlighted as being challenging with just under 60% of contracts tendered for by providers being handed back to local authorities due to the unsustainable nature of the prices agreed.
National Care Association has consistently highlighted the challenges of recruitment and retention of social care staff despite the introduction of the NLW. NCA’s Chairman, Nadra Ahmed, believes that this is a potentially crippling issue for social care where the need for Registered Managers, Qualified Nurses and auxiliary workforce is one of its biggest challenges. ‘Provider confidence in the ability to deliver quality care services to some of the most vulnerable people in our society with ever increasing and complex health and social care needs is being undermined. We are fearful that one of the greatest unintended consequences of national and local government policy relating to social care will create a two-tier care system. Providers are beginning to recognise that to maintain standards they will need to explore the option of having exclusively privately funded clients, which would leave a huge gap for commissioners to grapple with.’