It is so important that social care has hit the headlines these last few days, and there has been a really strong evocation of the ‘tipping point’ that social care finds itself at. The head of steam building towards the expected announcement on Thursday regarding the Local Government settlement is tangible, and rightly, attention is focussed on securing additional funding for the sector.
It is also critical; however, that in this coverage of care, we get across the picture of what it is that people experience on the receiving end of care services. I have seen social media commentary that describes care - whether at home or in a residential setting as meeting ‘basic’ care needs. We should not let this go unchallenged, what people need when they enter a care home, and what they almost always get, is care that supports them in living their lives as independently as possible. They get care that seeks to understand them as an individual, a person, someone with history, family, friends, interests and aspirations. It is not, as some have described, care that focuses on washing and dressing them, although of course this is important, it is care that is compassionate and based around building and sustaining relationships.
We also need to acknowledge that the care provided is very often for people with extremely complex needs – with a wide range of both physical and mental health needs. Relationship centred care is delivered typically in the context of people living with four or more long term conditions and who have a degree of cognitive impairment which is often a dementia. In addition we see increasing levels of end of life care delivered both in care home settings as it is in the person’s home. In order to do this, the care sector employs a wide range of skilled individuals, including registered nurses and in some cases therapists who provide the best care possible. It is right that the debate on funding for social care acknowledges that they need to be paid appropriately to deliver this care.
So, it is absolutely essential that we continue our drive to get government and the wider public to recognise the need to fund social care – and the urgency of this situation. Alongside that, let’s make sure we are clear what it is that the funding is needed for – and challenge the myth that this is about meeting basic needs – there is nothing basic about either the needs of people receiving care – or indeed the way in which it is delivered.