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Encouraged or dismayed?

20 August 2018

As I read Caroline Dinenage MP Minister for Care’s latest blog, written ahead of the Age UK’s For Later Life conference this September, I didn’t know whether to be encouraged or dismayed by the title ‘A long and difficult path – ‘doing nothing about social care is not an option’.

This has been a long held view by those of us working in the sector.

We know successive governments have not demonstrated clear leadership; have not been bold or brave in doing something. It has been akin to watching the recent European Athletics Relay race where the baton is passed on…… in this case we have gone around in circles with many reports commissioned read and considered but not acted upon.

The blog says:

“If you ask anyone who works in care about the greatest challenges facing the sector today, many will point to our growing ageing population and ask, how we will continue to care for them?

The reality is that we are all living longer – around 15,000 centenarians currently live in the UK, and by 2050, we expect over 56,000 people to reach this milestone. This is having a profound impact on us as individuals, collectively, and inevitably on our health and social care system. As a society, we need to think about not just ageing, but ageing well and how we can live independently for as long as possible…………

………Yet this isn’t the case for all and we must do much better on social care. It’s been a long and difficult path and given the mounting pressures facing the health and care system – doing nothing is not an option.

The upcoming green paper will set out reforms so that people of all ages – including some of the most vulnerable in society – can be confident in the system, knowing that their care needs will be met now and in the future. The reforms seek to address the main challenges and responsibilities facing the sector – including quality, integration, more individual control – for example through Personal Health Budgets, workforce, supporting families and carers, and ensuring a sustainable social care system.

As part of this, a burning issue is the cost of social care. It is only right that, where possible, we should contribute to our care costs in later life. We have a lot of work to do to build greater awareness among the public of how the current system works, and ensure that people appreciate the need to plan for their future care needs.

This will be complemented by the recently announced NHS 10-year long-term plan. Health and social care are two sides of the same coin and any reforms must be aligned – that’s why the green paper will be published in the autumn alongside the plan. Both will ensure we can cope with the pressures of a growing ageing population and ensure everyone had access to the highest quality health and social care”

Caroline draws on her own personal experience, as have many Ministers before her – let’s hope that when the long awaited for Green Paper arrives (still on schedule for the Autumn we are told) that it lives up to the multiple expectations placed upon it.

We are not short of reports telling us all we need to know about an ageing population and why government therefore needs to not kick the important matter of social care into the long grass….

An interesting article from the ONS: Living longer: how our population is changing and why it matters provides even more evidence why doing nothing is not an option!

Statistics and projections produced by Office for National Statistics (ONS) have long shown that the UK’s population is ageing. The changing and ageing structure of our population is driven primarily by two factors. Firstly, improvements in life expectancy mean that people are living longer and reaching older ages. Along with this, there has been a decrease in fertility, people are having fewer children and are having children later in life.

The ageing population and changing structure of the population will bring both opportunities and challenges for the economy, services and society at national and local levels. This report sets out some of the data and analyses relevant to these three policy domains. It aims to give a resource for policy-makers, commentators, think-tanks, academics, charities and the public to use when considering how the UK should adapt to the opportunities and challenges that our changing population brings”

'The Civil Society Strategy’ Building a future that works for everyone.

Earlier this month, the government launched 'The Civil Society Strategy’ Building a future that works for everyone.

The civil society strategy aims to create ‘thriving communities’ through strengthening ‘five foundations of social value’.

The five foundations are:

People: The aim here is to give people a sense of control over their future and their community, and to support them in taking action on the issues they care about.

Places: The strategy aims to create places where ‘local communities are empowered and take responsibility for where they live’. As well as enhancing existing opportunities such as community rights, there are some interesting new commitments.

The social sector: That’s charities and social enterprises to you and me. The strategy’s focus is to ensure charities and social enterprises are confident about their right to speak up, and have a strong role in shaping policy.

The private sector: The strategy seeks to build further initiatives and support for responsible businesses, those which put social and environmental responsibility at the heart of what they do.

The public sector: The aim here is to ensure collaborative commissioning, so local players are involved in a meaningful way in creating and delivering public services.

Having read a number of responses from respected sector bodies the jury seems out as to whether this is a strategy or just a plan that may or may not get acted upon.

The sentiments are already contained in multiple other documents but are yet to be realised….. The government’s intention is to establish a new body – the detail of which is yet to be seen.

Given many organisations are already actively engaged in work on the ground to achieve the ambitions of the strategy what will the role of the new body be?

Delayed transfer of care statistics

Also in the news were the latest statistics relating to delayed transfers of care published by NHS England: Latest delayed transfer of care figures show a decrease compared to June 2017, according to data published by NHS England.

There were 134,300 total delayed days in June 2018, of which 88,800 were in acute care. This is a decrease from June 2017, where there were 177,900 total delayed days, of which 117,100 were in acute care.

The 134,300 total delayed days in June 2018 is equivalent to 4,478 daily delayed transfer of care beds. This compares to 4,490 in May 2018 and 5,929 in June 2017.

The data also shows both the NHS and social care sectors have seen reductions in the number of delayed transfers of care in the last year.

According to the data, 62.6% of all delays in June 2018 were attributable to the NHS, 29.9% were attributable to social care and the remaining 7.4% were attributable to both NHS and social care.

The proportion of delays attributable to social care has decreased over the last year to 29.9%.

Without further interrogation of the figures it is hard to determine whether this was the case all along in that social care were always performing better ort whether there has been a significant shift in behaviour and therefore outcomes within thin this period of time.

The optimist in me would like to think that people across health and care and increasing working better together, having improved conversations which in turn delivers for people using services and not just the systems.

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