Social care Insights
From Simon Bottery

In a tongue-in-cheek seasonal special, Simon Bottery imagines what would happen if the BBC programme The Repair Shop took on the task of fixing adult social care.

Presenter: ‘Today on The Repair Shop we’re taking on an unusual challenge. Our team of expert craftspeople has been asked to “fix” adult social care. We’re joined by a member of the public to tell us a little about adult social care and why it means so much to them.’

Member of public: ‘Well, I’d like to say it’s a cherished family heirloom but, to be honest, we’ve not really paid it much attention until now. We got it around 1948, the same time as the NHS, but not as many people used it and it’s not really had the attention it should have had. It started to get really run down around 2010 and during the pandemic we really started to notice how badly it was doing. We’d like it to be much more widely used by more people, to really add to the quality of their lives, you know? But we’re worried that there’s some quite basic things wrong with it – its condition seems to get worse every year. We think it’ll need some real money spent on it.’

Presenter: ‘Great, well the team working on the project will be the Government. What’s your first impression, Government?’

Government: ‘Well, we can see it’s in need of real work and this Government, unlike all previous ones, is going to really fix it. It’s a once-in-a-generation opportunity and we can promise you some historic reforms to social care.’

Cut.

Presenter: ‘So you’re back – how did you get on?’

Government: ‘Well we’ve come up with some changes that we think people will like. We’ve not really done much about the underlying deterioration – we think it’ll take quite a lot more attention and we doubt the budget would stretch that far. But we’ve added something we’re calling a “cap” and we’ve also added a small extension at the bottom so that more people will be able to use it. Plus we’ve added a few little touches to make it look better. So we’re thinking “job done”, really.’

Member of the public: ‘That’s not really what I was expecting. I mean, I can see the value of the cap but I don’t think it’s going to help that many people. And it’s a real mistake not to do anything about the general deterioration – we worry the whole thing is going to fall over at any moment. So I don’t think you’ve fixed this at all.’

Government: ‘Well obviously that’s disappointing but perhaps you need to wait until you see the full details of our restoration in a white paper before the end of the year.’

Presenter: ‘Well there you have it. Join us next week for another edition of The Repair Shop where we’ll be taking on labour market productivity. Merry Christmas everyone.’

Note: A very similar version of The Repair Shop was broadcast in 2014 and 1999.


Simon Bottery is a Senior Fellow in Social Care at The King’s Fund. Email: S.Bottery@kingsfund.org.uk Twitter: @blimeysimon

About Simon Bottery

Before joining The King’s Fund in 2017, Simon spent almost 10 years as Director of Policy at the older people’s charity Independent Age. He has wide experience in policy, communications and journalism, including as Director of Communications at Citizens Advice, in the commercial sector for Guinness and in BBC local radio.

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