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Caring about the Care Bill

7 May 2014

Neil Matthewman, NCF Director

NCF Blog by Neil Matthewman

As I’m sure will be the case for all NCF members, Community Integrated Care is currently getting to grips with the Care Bill and how it might change the way we work when it becomes statute in 2015.

I believe that the Care Bill offers an aspirational, as well as a legal, framework for the care sector – clearly directing us to focus on promoting wellbeing, prevention, personalisation and choice. The question for all providers now is how we respond to it – do we want to live the letter of the law or the spirit of it?  

Everybody knows that we are working in times of unparalleled financial constraint – but as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. I believe that with these great challenges, will also come great opportunities. The Care Bill gives providers the impetus to take a fresh look at how we can work together to take costs out of the care system, whilst also achieving better outcomes for individuals. 

It presents an opportunity for providers to work together to share innovation and cut costs, whilst still retaining our independence. This can be achieved in a range of ways – from pooling or sharing resources on training, through to working in closer collaboration on the actual delivery of services to deliver greater integration for people who access services. Forums like the NCF have the potential to make this aspiration a reality and can act as a conduit for co-production.

However, perhaps the biggest change that the Care Bill will deliver is not the expectations it places on providers, but rather, the empowerment it gives to people who access services. The Care Bill enshrines in law the principles of personalisation. As a result, we can expect to see more people genuinely purchasing and directing their own support, and holding providers to account. It is my hope that this will ultimately drive innovation and raise standards – after all, who would choose to repeatedly buy a service that doesn’t meet their needs? 

There can be no doubt that big changes are ahead and we’re trying not to underestimate the scale of the task of getting set for the future. My own organisation is currently undertaking a significant organisational transformation programme, and we are linking this to enable us to respond to the challenges and opportunities presented by the Care Bill. We are currently working closely with a number of different organisations from across the sector, to understand how The Care Bill might affect commissioners, providers and people who access services. We’re not just trying to engage our senior managers on this, but our entire organisation. 
Neil Mathewman takes part in panel at SfC Conference 2014
I recently had the opportunity to take part in a panel debate at the Skills for Care Annual Conference 2014. One of the key topics for debate was how the Care Bill might change things over the years ahead; whilst there were many different opinions amongst the group, there was consensus that we can only achieve real progress by engaging our entire workforce. 

Skills for Care are producing some great tools for organisations to communicate the Care Bill to their frontline staff, and we are looking at using these with staff at all levels of our organisation. We welcome the merger of Skills for Care and the National Skills Academy for Social Care and look forward to the opportunity to partner with the new organisation on the development of future resources.

Why are we making this effort? Because we believe that the Bill, if viewed through ambitious eyes, offers a landmark opportunity to both improve our organisation and the sector as a whole.  Who would pass up on that? 

Neil Matthewman 
Chief Executive
Community Integrated Care

and NCF Director 
National Care Forum 

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