Immediate action is needed on social care as part of a new long-term plan in the spirit of the post-war reforms, if we are to build back better from the pandemic and ensure everyone is able to live their best life, councils say today.
In a new pamphlet setting out the issues and priorities for social care in light of the pandemic, the Local Government Association said we need to reimagine the purpose and value of great social care for all people in all our communities, with the same zeal and spirit of hope which led to the creation of the NHS.
This year’s Spending Review and the Government’s expected publication of its proposals for the future of care should also address some fundamental questions, including about what we want social care to be and what kind of care we want for ourselves and each other. Social care also should be recognised as part of the solution to building flourishing and connected communities, in the wake of the pandemic.
The LGA, which represents councils, said the experience of the coronavirus pandemic has shown the consequences of underfunding and the often hidden nature of social care. The tragic situation in care homes, along with the disproportionate number of deaths of people with learning disabilities and those of black, Asian and minority ethnicity (BAME) backgrounds in the care workforce, are just some of the ways that a historic lack of national attention has played out in our communities.
Immediate priorities include funding to meet the continuing costs of COVID-19 on social care, particularly on the care workforce and unpaid carers, as well as investment to tackle the funding gap between the cost of providing care and what councils pay.
This should help pave the way to a more properly funded, person-centred form of care that puts people in control of their lives and recognises their agency. Working closely with communities and the NHS to invest in prevention, reduce health inequalities and build on new health and care partnerships announced in the recent White Paper, this should ensure health and care services best support people to live the lives they want to lead in their own homes and communities.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “A better future for adult social care must be one of the legacies of COVID-19, which should include action on funding, workforce, meeting demand, improving choice and quality of care.
“We need a ‘1948 moment’ which inspired the creation of the NHS for the long-term future of social care, especially in light of the devastating consequences of the pandemic for those drawing on and working in care and their families.
“Over the last year, social care has proven that it is not simply a set of services needed by some because of age or disability, but a vital way of ensuring all people are supported to live a full life and maintain relationships and connections, whatever their circumstances, spanning various organisations, volunteers and staff.
“Social care has also shown its value as an inherently local service, with councils playing a valuable leadership and coordination role in their communities. Emergency funding to cope with COVID-19 costs to date has been helpful, but we need to move beyond ‘more of the same’ and the pre-coronavirus status quo, to a new era of care which puts more trust in people who draw on social care, better supports wellbeing, and enables everyone to live the lives they want to lead.
“We call on the Government to recognise this in the forthcoming Spending Review and publish its proposals for the future of adult social care as soon as possible, before the summer parliamentary recess.”