A signed open letter has been sent to the Prime Minister today, calling for a ‘1948 moment’ for adult social care and to establish a long-term and sustainable future for the sector.
The letter, signed by more than 28 co-signatories, was delivered to the Prime Minister this morning. Organisations and charities including Care England, Age UK, The Relatives and Residents’ Association (R&RA), UKHCA, Carers UK and Independent Age backed the call for a ‘desperate need of reform’.
The body of the letter highlights how the adult social care workforce has demonstrated tremendous commitment and resilience during this time; however, the letter states that the sector is on its knees and is in desperate need of reform so that it can craft a long-term social care future that will protect citizens, reduce the burden on the NHS and establish good careers in social care.
According to Age UK, 1.6 million people aged 65 and over do not receive the care and support they need and this could grow to 2.1 million people by 2030. Similarly, there is also unmet demand for people with learning disabilities; ADASS reports that in the last four years there has been a 10% increase in the numbers of younger people who require social care. The open letter also calls on the Government to develop a clear funding strategy for social care.
The State Opening of Parliament will take place on Tuesday 11th May. The Queen’s Speech will set out the Government’s agenda for the next session and its plans to ‘build back better’ from the pandemic and level-up opportunities across the country. The sector is awaiting details concerning the future of social care.
Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, said, ‘Many citizens have been so heartened to hear the Prime Minister’s commitment to reform and it is very important that it features in the Queen’s Speech. The sector stands ready and willing to support the delivery of this much-needed reform agenda.’
The call for establishing a sustainable future for social care was backed by the CEO of UKHCA, who has urged the Government to show ‘strong leadership’. Dr Jane Townson, UKHCA's CEO, said, ‘Regardless of whether people are funding their own care, or are supported by the State, strong leadership from central Government, based on cross-party consensus, is vital to ensure that people’s preferences are at the heart of our care and health system. It is vital that homecare is available and accessible for all who need it.’
Charities have been campaigning for change on behalf of the vulnerable people and the families they represent for some time. The Relatives and Residents’ Association said the social care sector is reaching ‘breaking point’. Helen Wildbore, Director of The Relatives and Residents’ Association, said, ‘The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the problems with the social care sector and highlighted the desperate need for reform. A year of unremitting challenges has seen services stretched to breaking point. Investment is urgently needed to build a sustainable system with quality at its heart.’
This is a view shared by Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK. She said, ‘The disaster that has struck social care this year illustrates what happens when you consistently neglect a crucial service that millions rely on every day. We have seen the countless problems first hand, with care homes bearing the brunt, care at home struggling to meet older people's needs and family members often forced to pitch in to fill the gap for long periods and without the support they need.’
Abrahams added, ‘Unless Government invests a lot more public money in care services now, the numbers of older people going without the help they need will simply spiral and more and more families will hit breaking point.
‘Ministers must commit to firm action in the forthcoming Queen's Speech because this really is the last chance for the Prime Minister to follow through on his pledge to “fix the crisis in social care, once and for all,” and have something to show for it by the next General Election.’
Visit the Care England website to read the open letter in full.
In the latest issue of CMM Magazine, CEO of Care England, Martin Greeen OBE, reflects on the past 12 months and the future of social care.