In a speech, Minister of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt MP has set out the Government's seven key principles ahead of the Green Paper due this summer.
These seven key principles will guide the Government's thinking and give an indication of the direction of the Green Paper.
The first key principle is quality of care. Mr Hunt praised the 81% of adult social care providers that are Good or Outstanding saying it was, 'Testament to many hardworking and committed professionals working in care to whom we owe a huge debt of gratitude.' He clarified that this means, 'We need a relentless and unswerving focus on providing the highest standards of care – whatever a person’s age or condition. This means a commitment to tackle poor care with minimum standards enforced throughout the system so that those using social care services are always kept safe and treated with the highest standards of dignity and compassion.'
The second principle is whole-person integrated care. Mr Hunt explained, 'My second key principle is the full integration of health and social care centred around the person. We know when this happens people stay longer at home, healthier, more independent and needing fewer hospital services.' This includes individuals having a single health and social care plan based on a joint assessment by both systems. With that, he announced three pilots of the process in Gloucestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
The third principle is control, giving individuals and their families the ability to 'direct the care they receive and autonomy to lead the lives they want.' As part of this, and the pilots mentioned above, the Government will be consulting on personal health budgets 'in order to achieve better integration for those with the greatest ongoing social care needs as well as health needs.' He added that control also includes transparency and access to reliable information as noted by the recent Competition and Markets Authority's investigation into the care home sector.
Principle four focuses on the social care workforce and the need for it to be respected and nurtured. Calling care workers 'modern-day heroes', Mr Hunt said the value of their work must be recognised and action must be taken on 'the wider set of challenges facing the workforce'. He added that, 'It is time to do more to promote social care as a career of choice and to ensure there are better opportunities for progression into areas like nursing which span both the health and social care sectors.' He also announced a NHS and social care 10 year workforce strategy.
Mr Hunt's fifth principle concentrates on supporting families and carers and making 'the needs of carers central to our new social care strategy'. Ahead of the Green Paper, the Government will publish an action plan to support carers and make it easier for them to look after a loved one.
Principle six centres on creating a sustainable funding model for social care supported by a stable market. It will consider 'how we ensure a sustainable financial system for care, delivering a stable and vibrant market which delivers cost-effective, quality services for all including the debate we need to have with the public on the challenges of sourcing additional social care funding.'
He added that, 'We should not assume that the best long-term answer will be necessarily the same for different age cohorts.' This principle also includes increasing public awareness of where social care costs currently lie. As part of this work, the Government will also look at how it can, 'prime innovation in the market, develop the evidence for new models and services, and encourage new models of care provision to expand at scale.' This will include the role of housing and replicating best practice models that combine a home environment and quality care, plus the role of aids and adaptations.
The final principle, seven, is security for all. Focusing on the principle of shared responsibility, Mr Hunt pointed out that this, 'Continues to be right and people should continue to expect to contribute to their care in the future as they prepare for later life – but we are clear that there has to be a partnership between the state and individuals. He added that, 'The way our current charging system operates is far from fair...we therefore need a system that includes an element of risk-pooling.'
Mr Hunt concluded, 'Innovation is going to be central to all of these principles: we will not succeed unless the changes we establish embrace the changes in technology and medicine that are profoundly reshaping our world.
'By reforming the system in line with these principles everyone – whatever their age – can be confident in our care and support system. Confident that they will have control, confident that they will have quality care and confident that they will get the support they need from wider society.'