As expected, Andy Burnham (Secretary of State for Health) did, indeed, announce the Government White Paper on setting up a National Care Service and the funding behind it. I haven’t had time to read up on too much apart from the reports around it.
Focus seems to be around a workable national standard and decision tool that would stop some of the arbitrarily different funding methods and approaches that happen in different local authorities. Definitely a good thing – however, without wanting to be too negative, the devil will be in the detail. The Fair Access to Care Services (FACS) have shown that national criteria when applied locally can still retain a degree of ‘flexibility of interpretation’.
The government are resolved to press ahead with the idea of free home care covering those with the highest needs as well as free residential care for those who require more than two years of care.
There are lots of other proposals amongst which, those that came immediately into focus was another emphasis on the move to personal (individual) budgets but that is no surprise as it’s where policy have been pushing us in general.
Another commission to explore ways of funding (surprise). I wonder if cost-cutting would involve all those who are employed on and attached to these commissions that forever seem to be providing ideas but rarely in results. Note to self to calm some of that cynicism.
There is a proposal to split the GSCC and separate Social Work regulation from Social Care staff regulation. To me, that makes sense to be honest but I can reserve more detailed examinations of that for another day and it makes a tidy post in its own right.
We spoke very briefly about the news at work as it trickled though. Mostly sceptical of so many promised changes, fingers burnt by the promises of the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act and the way that was supposed to change social work and make it more proactive, the general feeling was that we needed to know where the funding was coming from between free care at home and free residential care, there is going to be a mighty burden somewhere.
For me, one of the main problems I deal with is poor quality care which is delivered in order to fulfil contracts at the lowest cost to purchaser – this means awful terms and conditions (and pay) for care-workers who are not valued and thus cannot be expected to deliver in much higher terms (although they do often go above and beyond – not all are equipped to do so). The people who suffer by the ever decreasing finances are the users of poor services and the care workers who are forced to work unacceptable conditions in residential care and domiciliary care. Unless more money actually comes into the services and yes, they need to be more expensive services, the quality is unlikely to improve.
Personalisation cannot be seen as a move towards ‘cheaper’ care. That is where my cynicism comes in.
Anyway, a somewhat rapid pre-work thought-dump. Hopefully over the next few days, I’ll be able to mull over some of the details a little more.