Three shifts are needed to address the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had on an already struggling social care system, says Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) in its new report, Beyond COVID: new thinking on the future of adult social care.
Early on in the pandemic, SCIE explored both the positive and negative impacts of COVID-19 on the sector, drawing out lessons for social care reform. It also discussed with the sector what was needed to improve social care in the future, once the worst of the pandemic is over.
Beyond COVID draws on a series of essays and podcasts from sector leaders and a roundtable attended by Helen Whately MP, Minister of State for Care, along with learning from SCIE’s wider work with the sector.
In the report, SCIE sets out three priorities for reform - or ‘three shifts’ - and makes specific recommendations that it believes will support in building the kind of sector everyone wants.
These three shifts are:
- Shift 1: From hand-to-mouth to long-term and sustainable funding. SCIE states that we simply can’t go on like this, and calls on the Government for a fair and long-term funding settlement for social care.
- Shift 2: To shift investment and focus away from remedial and acute services and towards prevention. To assist with this shift, introduce innovation funds for the sector to scale up the most effective preventative models of care, housing and technology.
- Shift 3: From low pay, low recognition and poor conditions, towards higher pay, better conditions, progression and development for the workforce - and parity of esteem with the NHS.
SCIE is also calling for a long-term plan for social care, mirroring the NHS Long Term Plan.
SCIE’s Chief Executive, Kathryn Smith, says, 'Since I became a care worker at 16, I have never known a worse period for social care. Every day, as more reports came in about deaths that could have been prevented, lack of testing kit and personal protective equipment, or local authorities and providers facing financial ruin, I’ve felt a sense of despair. However, I am also reminded every day of the enormous resilience, versatility, passion and empathy of the care workforce, and within wider communities. And I ask myself, can we come out of this undoubted crisis stronger? I think we can.'
SCIE’s Chair, Paul Burstow, says, 'In this report we call for a long-term plan for social care that will deliver on this vision. We also identify three shifts we think need to happen [...and] set out a number of specific recommendations for Government and other organisations which we hope are considered as part of future plans. I hope that Government and sector leaders find this report a source of inspiration and ideas for turning that vision for social care into a reality, one that gets us Beyond COVID-19. As ever, SCIE stands ready to support the sector with its journey to a better place.'
The full report, Beyond COVID: new thinking on the future of adult social care, is available to read and download on the SCIE website.