Social care: the action we need

November 28, 2019

Nuffield Trust has released a new report, Social care: the action we need which reveals that up to 90,000 home care workers for the over 65s are needed immediately if the main parties’ manifesto pledges to expand and reform social care are to be met.

In a new briefing, the Nuffield Trust finds that there are around 165,000 over 65s in England who need help at home with three or more basic daily activities like getting dressed, washing and eating, but are not currently receiving it from professionals, family or friends.

The Nuffield Trust says that expanding social care to this group is implicit in both the Labour party’s pledge for free personal care for over 65s and the Conservative party’s principle to ‘give every person the dignity and security that they deserve’, despite the lack of concrete proposals in the latter’s manifesto.

Researchers took the average number of hours of home care that people currently receive and calculated the number of hours a full time worker would need to deliver care for the 165,000 over 65s not currently receiving care. This revealed that just providing one hour of care per day to this group would require a minimum of 48,000 home care workers, rising to just under 90,000 home care workers for two hours of care a day.

It also argues that politicians must urgently put in place plans to expand and retain the care workforce by:

  • Making drastic improvements to pay, working conditions and training opportunities in order to make care work an attractive career.
  • Ensuring any future migration system does not restrict social care staff from entering the country to work after Brexit and instead ensures government can actively attract the staff the sector so badly needs.
  • Helping the millions of people who care for friends and family, by promoting policies that support people financially and balancing work with caring for an older or disabled relative.

The briefing also says that a radical overhaul of the way social care is funded is needed to protect people against catastrophic costs and provide a sustainable social care system.

Commenting on the briefing, Natasha Curry, Deputy Director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust said, 'Despite the extremely disappointing lack of concrete proposals to pay for social care in the Conservative manifesto, it is clear that all parties quite rightly wish to expand the current paltry system. Caring for people who are currently struggling with no support will take time, money and - crucially - thousands more home care workers.

'We must be prepared to hire and hold on to much-needed social care workers from home and abroad - and that means being open to so-called ‘low-skilled migration’. Without doing this it will be impossible to expand social care to those who need it.

'Whoever is Prime Minister on 13th December needs to grasp the nettle and put forward clear proposals for funding and staffing social care if thousands of people are not to continue to suffer.'

Responding to Social care: the action we need, Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation said, 'The incoming government is faced with a choice: fix social care with a long-term plan and significant investment, or continue to fail our nation’s most vulnerable people.

'All the main parties have made promises on social care, and this new analysis from the Nuffield Trust shows us the scale of the challenge if those promises are to be kept, and if vulnerable people are not to suffer further.

'Everyone knows about the staffing crisis in the NHS, but less attention is paid to the social care workforce, where vacancies are even more significant. The incoming government needs to deliver a sustainable social care system, and this must include a new workforce strategy that helps fill the major gaps we have in the supply of care workers.'

The full report is available on the Nuffield Trust website.


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