The publication of this year’s influential State of care report rightly shines a welcome spotlight on the precarious position of social care before the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak as well as the more recent and momentous impact of COVID-19 on England’s health and care systems.
The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), the national infrastructure body representing organisations within the voluntary sector who work alongside disabled people, welcomes this comprehensive picture. There is an encouraging focus on how COVID-19 has had a disproportionate effect on some people with protected characteristics, including how disabled people have been among those hit hardest by the pandemic and its knock-on effects.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic in March, VODG has raised concerns about how the government’s response has overlooked the rights and entitlements of disabled people and of the workforce supporting them. This has been alongside a continued call for the government to put social care on a strong and sustainable footing – instead of dishing out quick-fix solutions.
VODG hopes that today’s publication will encourage the government to finally address the historic and sustained political failure to fully recognise, understand and fund equitable care and support services.
Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of VODG, said:
“We welcome CQC’s continued spotlight on the most pressing issues within the sector as well as its unique perspective, which gives us a broad view across health and social care at a time of particular concern.
“The pandemic has exacerbated the need for reform, investment, and sensible workforce planning for the social care sector. It has also highlighted the government’s lack of recognition for working age adult social care services and the inequities that exist for many people with protected characteristics – as CQC rightly reports, the pandemic has exacerbated the challenges already faced by the UK’s 14.1 million disabled people and the social care sector that supports them.
“COVID-19 has also shone a spotlight on the significant role voluntary sector disability organisations play in supporting people and their families and of the local community services that play such an important role in people’s lives.
“While it is reassuring that CQC’s State of care report had identified and acknowledged these issues, we can only hope that the government finally takes notice and addresses these issues as a matter of urgency.
“For many years, the annual State of care report has highlighted the precarious financial state of the social care sector and the growing demands placed on it. “Today’s report provides yet another reminder of the impact this sustained lack of funding is having on the sector, only now, it has been truly magnified and worsened by the pandemic.
“The government must now seize the chance to ensure its ongoing response to the pandemic, and future planning for the social care sector, is fully inclusive and responsive to the needs of all the people it serves.”
The Care Provider Alliance response
Speaking on the findings and recommendations, Kathy Roberts, chair of the Care Provider Alliance said:
“Care providers are to be congratulated for their remarkable achievements: 85 per cent have achieved a good or outstanding CQC rating despite the huge pressures they have faced, but they cannot be taken for granted.
“COVID-19 has revealed, more starkly than ever, the lack of parity in the support given to the NHS and that given to social care. Paradoxically it has also highlighted the absolute inter-dependence of the two systems. CQC’s report provides clear evidence and recommendations for improvement.
“Through the Care Provider Alliance’s work with care services, the NHS, central and local government, we have seen how working together as equal partners – sharing expertise and experience – makes a real difference. As the Alliance of the main trade associations working across the adult social care sector, the CPA is calling for:
- a long-term funding and support solution to ensure that the social care market is sustainable.
- an equal place for care providers at local and national planning and decision-making, alongside our health and local authority colleagues.
- recognition and reward for our highly-skilled care workforce.
“In return, the CPA and our members will continue to work constructively with our colleagues across government and social care national agencies. We strongly welcome CQC’s rigorous and valuable report and recommendations.”
Nick Sanderson, Audley Group, CEO commented: “The CQC report simply highlights the depressing fact that the pandemic exposed just the tip of the iceberg. The whole social care system is incredibly fragile and in desperate need of fundamental reform. The government has until now turned a blind eye to the growing issue, with years of empty promises and inaction. This can’t go on. If any positives can come out of a very difficult year for the social care sector, real reform has to start now. Before it is too late. We have an opportunity to do something fundamental rather than simply throwing money at a broken system.
“The solution has to bring together care and housing as one. Many issues faced in the social care system result from people are living in unsuitable housing, particularly as they age and this places intolerable pressure on the NHS and social care systems. People are pushed into the care sector long before they need to be there. We must effect change from the ground up, increasing provision of the type of housing that is suitable for people as they get older, and as such takes the pressure off hospitals and residential care. This is why, with ARCO, we are calling on the government to create a task force to tackle the obstacles holding back the growth of the retirement living market. The sector is ready to play its part and the government must be too.”
Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England, says:
“Although this year’s State of Care report makes a raft of important recommendations including a new deal for the adult social care workforce, it is disappointing to note that the report is predominantly a narrative of events which spanned the Covid-19 pandemic, as opposed to a critical reflection of what must change. This is underscored by the lack of internal reflection from CQC as to its handling of the crisis.”
The annual State of Care report, www.cqc.org.uk examines trends, shares examples of good and outstanding care and highlights where care needs to improve. This year’s State of Care starts by considering the quality of care prior to Covid-19 before subsequently examining the impact of the pandemic and the response of the system.
The report highlights the fantastic work of the adult social care sector with 80% of adult social care services were rated as good and 5% as outstanding (31 July 2019: 80%, 4%). However, it is concerning that among mental health services that the level of poor care in inpatient wards for people with a learning disability and/or autistic people continues to rise; the overall proportion of services rated as inadequate rose from 4% to 13%. This emphasises the need to deliver on the Transforming Care target to reduce the total number of patients with a learning disability and/or autism within inpatient units by 35%.
Professor Green continues:
“The Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the interdependence of the health and social care system and the organisations that operate across the system. The regulator must now reflect upon its own role and look to facilitate the delivery of safe, quality and sustainable Covid-19 proof care in the future.”