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Fixing the public perception of health and social care

4 October 2018

Blog by Martin Farrow, CEO, Optalis -  October 2018

Oh, you want to buy the whole car?

My car hasnít been well. Truth be known, I need a new one. When I start that process, what I am not expecting is for the garage to tell me that two of the wheels and part of the engine are included in the savings account Iíve been paying into, but for the whole thing to work, and to maximise the chances of it running smoothly, with regular MOTís to prevent emerging problems, Iíll need to pay extra for the other two wheels and the pistons. I would find that a little odd as I would expect the garage to take care of all that for me. I donít think that is an unreasonable assumption. 

          

For those working in, and or in receipt of, social care the findings from this MORI survey for Deloitte about perception wonít come as a surprise. Itís a small survey, but I suspect itís reflective of a general perception, and you can understand why. You pay your tax and NI, part of that pays for your health needs, the NHS is free at the point of delivery, ergo it must be free. Whatís confusing about that? 

Even if you never go into a hospital, you will instantly recognise the building. If you see a nurse, you will instantly recognise the uniform and therefore what they might be doing, and thanks to those in the media and the halls of Whitehall, we all know a fair amount about the NHS, who pays and what value it brings. But for social care, it is more ambiguous. Social care doesnít come with a building, or a specific uniform, and if it makes the news, it tends to be wrapped up in a story about a badly run service.  Itís not the easiest to define or even, in some cases, clearly demarcate between the two systems of healthcare and social care.  This is where the professionals shake their heads and the person in the street nods. And therein lays a problem.

When you need support, you need support. This isnít like replacing a car. The question is not about whether you want to pay for an optional extra; this is about a human being in need, and  the last thing the individual wants is to be confused about the process of navigating through an already complex system, and then be told that some things are free, and others youíll need to pay for. All the individual wants is someone to take the worry away in the best, most caring and effective way. What happens behind the scenes isnít important, and that change starts with the need to look outside of parliamentary terms to set one health and social care strategy that spans 40 years Ė not four.

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