Is it just me…?

Vic Rayner sets out her New Year’s resolutions for the sector in 2018.

Welcome to 2018 – it looks like another rollercoaster. Almost as soon as the year began, we learned the outcome of the latest government reshuffle and that 2018 is bringing us a newly rebranded Department of Health and Social Care, a Secretary of State with publicly-acknowledged responsibility for social care and a number of new ministers.

So how, in the face of this flux, can we ground our expectations so that this does not become yet another year where social care is swept under the proverbial carpet? I thought it would be helpful to lay out some measures, with which we can assess our progress at the end of the year.

Green Paper

A Green Paper that looks forward and recognises the need for both a sustainable funding system and investment in a quiet revolution of transformation of services to meet future needs and expectations.

Data and technology

A sector that is better prepared to take advantage of the enhancements that technology can play in all areas of social care provision. The pressures that GDPR and a renewed focus on Information Governance will bring on organisations are utilised to highlight the benefits of greater data awareness and a new set of skills and expertise within the sector.

Co-production

The voice of people using services becoming more clearly articulated, so that policy and practice reform is more strongly influenced through this person-centred lens. There is much to be learned across the sector from the excellent work on co-production in organisations such as Think Local, Act Personal, In Control and the Coalition for Collaborative Care.
workforce

The key contribution of staff is both better rewarded and understood. As we head into a new year of TV, I am struck by the increasing number of occupational dramas. As the ever-popular Sarah Lancashire plays a social worker in Kiri, I think we may need to set up our own creative collaborative and pitch for a care home drama, with Sarah in the lead role of registered manager.

Recruitment and retention are likely to remain a challenge, but we must continue to grow our understanding of what works, and ensure that staff are valued and supported in their complex and skilled work.

Intergeneration

The intergenerational wave that started to take hold in 2017 is sustained, and we begin to see this reflected in commissioning and importantly, regulatory understanding of how this will impact and change delivery, outcomes and the role of care provision within communities.

International

We continue to look outward for ideas, inspiration and lessons learned. At NCF, we have always valued our international connections and the great strength they can bring. As we finalise our plans for an international and UK-wide care conference that will bring people to the UK, it is a great opportunity to reflect on what we do well here and what we can learn from our international colleagues.

Evidence

The evidence base for care becomes more widely recognised and utilised. As integration pushes forward, one of the great opportunities is a better national understanding of the contribution that care makes to supporting people in sustaining and improving their physical and mental health.

The identification of commonly understood measures will help build confidence for those using, commissioning and providing services, so that they are clear that the best possible interventions are being offered, and are aware of the difference that they are making.

Quality

Finally, that quality remains the cornerstone of everything we do in care. Last year saw the arrival of Quality Matters – a sector-wide plan to improve quality endorsed by people, providers, commissioners and regulators. This year, we need to build on that approach and keep thinking of quality first in each and every development.

These are my resolutions for social care in 2018, and I am looking forward to working with colleagues in every walk of social care to make these come to life.

Vic Rayner is Executive Director of the National Care Forum. Email: vic.rayner@cationalcareforum.org.uk Twitter: @VicRayner

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