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
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
………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
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….
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!
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.
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
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
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
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