Social care leaders need to envisage the future as well as deal with the reality of now, in order to transform people’s lives, the incoming President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has said.
In her opening address to colleagues, Julie Ogley asked them to picture the future for adult social care and how this could be improved upon in the next decade and beyond, asking them if this is what they would want for themselves and their loved ones:
She asked: “Do we think that our current model is going to last for the next five, 10 years or generation? Is it what you would want and for your families? Are we truly embracing technology and digitisation, in how our workforce operates and how care is delivered?
“Why can I book a weekend break from my sofa, but not respite care? Why can’t people self-serve or manage their own support?”
About the current social care agenda Ms Ogley, who is also Director of Social Care, Health and Housing at Central Bedfordshire Council, will say that a decade of austerity has found the sector “serving less people, with a fragile care market, a fragile workforce with no national workforce strategy, unsustainable funding without a settlement but increasingly reliant on one-off grant funding”, with no green paper providing a future strategic direction.
This is further compounded by the impact on people’s wellbeing from welfare reforms, homelessness and rough sleeping, she will say, as the sector prepares for the Government’s long awaited green paper on its future.
However despite these constraints, adult social care has “a very skilled, committed workforce that comes to work every day to improve people’s lives” and will highlight the very significant improvements around Delayed Transfers of Care as an example of what can be achieved by colleagues with limited resources and moving towards community approaches.
These include asking questions about why is the whole adult social care workforce not salaried and the lack of a national workforce strategy for the sector: “Do we really expect colleagues to try and bring up a family on current levels of pay in housing that’s unaffordable?
“How can we be confident that there will be carers to care for us when we’re older? Is our workforce held in the same esteem as that of the NHS – if not, why not?”
Ms Ogley also highlighted the role of the more than 1.4million people working in social care and how many of her colleagues have talked about the worryingly-complex system which they operate in, concerns which need to be the driving force behind change.
Social care also needs to make sure that it is not just defined by its relationship with health, at the expense of other important areas including housing, leisure, public health and planning which help define and design places, she will say.
Looking ahead, Ms Ogley said that there are three strands attached to the future based on ADASS values and beliefs: the leadership of adult social care; the regional sector led improvement and support offer; and speaking the truth to say what may be uncomfortable and challenging for others to hear.