Why social care needs to be high on agenda for the General Election 2017

 There is no denying that Brexit is going to be at the heart of all parties’ General Election campaigns, but what we, and many others in our sector want to see social care taking centre stage.

Without urgent action, the social care sector will have no hope of bouncing back from breaking point. Record numbers of care workers are quitting every day. Care providers are handing contracts back to local authorities because they can no longer provide satisfactory levels of care on the money they are given. Even the chairman of the UK Homecare Association has said that the adult social care system has begun to collapse. Even after all this, will social care take a leading role in this year’s General Election or will it be relegated to the sideline?

Our gut feeling is that it will be talked about, just like its sister, the NHS but that it will be overshowed by Brexit and the constant debate as to whether Jeremy Corbyn will A) pull a Donald Trump or B) step-aside if he is defeated.

 The battle social care is facing

 Already we’ve touched on just a couple of the reasons why social care is struggling and why it needs to be a focus over the coming months but it doesn’t stop there. There are now at least 1.2million people living with an unmet care need, according to Age UK. We have an aging population that will require more time and more resources soon enough.

Before the General Election announcement, the Conservatives pledged an extra £2billion to be invested within social care, but with a funding gap of £2.8 billion by 2019/20, this just isn’t going to cut it. Add in rising inflation, national living wage and further cuts to council budgets and the sector is soon going to run out of money.

 Our social care manifesto…

 We know that in an ideal world, social care would have money pouring in left, right and centre, but we know this isn’t the case. Here we outline what areas we’d like to see parties talk about within their social care pledges as we know it can bring great reward.

  • More grants for use of assistive technology – The Department of Health recently awarded over 50 local authorities a slice of a £25m grant to explore the use of assistive technology and housing for adults with learning disabilities. We’d like to see it extended to adults with physical disabilities and complex care, as well as exploring how technology can help older adults to stay at home longer.
  • A move to making specialist supported housing a key policy for local authorities when it comes to suitable accommodation for adults with disabilities. Compared to residential care, it can save up to £185 per person, per week. It also helps to promote independence for the individuals and integrates them into the community.
  • Retirement living and extra care – we know there is a huge shortage of housing so what if the Government pledged to help older people move into retirement living developments? Gave them a grant and helped with moving fees? We’re not talking about your standard sheltered housing either, but well thought-out, well-designed accommodation that will offer a home that can adapt as their needs change. Developments of this type can have care staff onsite and will keep older adults out of expensive residential care a lot longer.
  • More money!! Cutting back on social care is a false economy as it puts more pressure on the NHS. It also means we are losing valuable care staff as they can often earn more money in other sectors and areas. With some many care providers handing back contracts, more needs to be done my all political parties when it comes to social care.

The next eight weeks will be interesting to see where social care ranks when it comes to policies and agendas. Watch this space.