Inequalities in how people can access social care have been highlighted as a major cause for concern by the Chair of the Lincolnshire Care Association in response to a report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
Melanie Weatherley MBE says the difficulties some people face in accessing good-quality care is a very worrying problem, and she blames long-term under-investment in health and care services for the problem.
“The CQC’s State of Care report highlights the inequalities of access to care, which is of great concern to me and to members of the Lincolnshire Care Association,” said Melanie.
“If we don’t provide good-quality care at the earliest level of need, as a society we just end up spending more on treating people with acute episodes further down the line.
“This problem stems from a lack of long-term investment. We have been left with a workforce of care professionals who are going above and beyond to deliver the best care they possibly can; but there are not enough of them and they are neither properly recognised nor adequately rewarded.
“As a result, levels of anxiety and burnout among the workforce are increasing. This in turn increases the risk that mistakes will be made, and it makes it more likely that individuals who need care and support will be treated as commodities rather than as individuals.”
In its report, the CQC describes this year as “a “turbulent one for health and social care” which has seen social care remain “gridlocked” as the cost-of-living crisis continues to place pressure on the sector.
Adult social care providers are continuing to struggle with recruitment and retention as they face increased running costs and struggle to pay staff a wage in line with inflation, which the CQC says is leading to “unfair care”.
The State of Care report highlights problems with people’s access to care in England, which the CQC says is “an enduring issue” that has been raised several times in the past.
“Getting access to services remains a fundamental problem, particularly for people with protected equality characteristics. Along the health and care journey, people are struggling to get the care they need when they need it,” the report finds.
It also highlights the record numbers of people waiting for planned care and treatment, and their ongoing struggles in getting GP and dental appointments, and it says, “insufficient capacity in adult social care is continuing to contribute to delays in discharging people from hospital.”
While occupancy rates have increased, the CQC’s register of adult social care services shows that the number of registered beds in England decreased by 0.6% between July 2022 and July 2023.
“To solve these proplems we need the government to adopt a longer-term strategic approach to social care and to deliver the improvements which are often discussed but which have so far failed to materialise,” said Melanie Weatherley.