Positive news should be catalyst for change
Care providers say the time is coming for the Government to start planning for the future of social care after coronavirus.
Whilst warning against complacency, the Independent Care Group says it is time to be looking ahead.
The figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that 564 people in England and Wales died in care and nursing homes from Covid-19 in the week up to 5th June. That is down from 705 the previous week.
Previous weeks saw 1,090, 1,660, 1,666, 2,423 and 2,800 deaths respectively.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Today’s figures show once again that the trend is downward and we are moving in the right direction.
“We cannot be complacent and let coronavirus take hold again after we have all worked so extremely hard to get Covid-19 under control.
“At the same time, the moment is fast approaching where we have to start planning for reform of social care once coronavirus is behind us.
“We need a clear plan on how we can rebuild social care in the future, as years of neglect and under-funding for the sector have been brutally exposed by coronavirus.
The ICG has issued its wish list for care reform.
“We have long been promised a Green Paper on social care but it has been repeatedly delayed,” Mr Padgham added.
“The sources of the current problems are well documented, but almost £8bn cut from social care budgets since 2010 has left a sector on its knees, unable to deal with something like coronavirus.
“To ensure that never happens again, we have to have a root and branch reform of social care, matched by enough funding to bring it to parity with NHS healthcare, alongside which providers have been battling to defeat Covid-19.”
The ICG’s suggestions include:
- A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
- NHS health care and social care to be merged and managed either locally or nationally
- Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation or National Insurance
- A guarantee that people receiving publicly-funded care can receive it in their own home or close to where they live
- A commissioner for older people and those with Learning Disabilities in England
- A properly-costed national rate for care fees linked to a national career pathway and salary framework for care staff
- Dementia to be treated like other high profile, high priority illnesses, like cancer and heart disease
- A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
- A cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ charges
- Local Enterprise Partnerships to prioritise social care
- A national scheme to ensure people save for their own care, as they do for a pension
- A new model of social care delivery based on catchment areas – like GPs
- Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT so that they can claim it back, as other business sectors do
- CQC to have much greater powers to oversee all commissioning practises such as per minute billing and 15-minute visits
- Less duplication of inspection between CQC and local authorities/clinical commissioning groups
- Greater recognition of the role of the independent sector and utilisation of its expertise in the commissioning and delivery of social care
- Guaranteed equal partnership working through seats on Health and Well Being Boards, CCGs and NHS
- Giving providers and CQC greater flexibility in delivering services
- Providing telemedicine incentives
- Allowing nurses and social care staff from overseas to work in the U.K. including lowering the salary cap
- More nurse training and bursaries to encourage recruitment and end the shortage of nurses
- Long term measures to integrate older and younger people in care settings and change the perception of the generations
- Investment in research and development into new models of social care delivery
- Funding to help upgrade older care homes to maintain a range of choice for the public and investment in domiciliary care
- Funding for leadership training.