Once again, it appears that what is said, is vastly
different from what is done. News appeared over the weekend that the Adult
Social Care Green paper has been delayed again – this time until the New Year.
Whilst the weary may well not view this announcement with
great surprise, it remains, of course, of dire consequence for those on the
receiving end and involved in the delivery of social care. See the article stating the delay here.
Why does it matter when this document appears? After all, we
are repeatedly told it will be very ‘green’, which means it is unlikely to
focus on firm announcements, and will rather look at broad brush consultative
agendas; for many who are desperate for concrete change, this could mean it
will feel like we have waited for nothing. There is a risk when you get too
close to the deliberations of policy makers and takers the delivery of the
paper, the change in the law, the public announcement, the tone of the tweet –
becomes the centre of your ambition.
However, it is absolutely clear this paper cannot come soon
enough, and the expectations that hang on it should remain exceptionally high –
because it is central to people’s lives.
Why do we need the
If we needed any reminder of why we need this paper, and why
we need reform – then BBC was able to offer us ‘an up close and personal’
perspective through ‘Care’, which
aired last night at 9pm on BBC. If you want to understand the strength of
feeling and debate (and like me were banned from watching it in favour of the
crowning of King Harry!), then review the twitter feed for this programme.
Ranging from being described as incredibly accurate, to
wildly misrepresentative, what was clear, it portrayed the complexity,
frustrations, financial strains and on occasion, professional shortfalls of the
way in which we deliver integrated health and care. However, once again, it
showed we need to look with great urgency at how we deliver care – as it is
central to people’s lives.
However, whilst we wait for the publication of the Green
Paper ‘to get the amount of attention it deserves’ and for the government
reform agenda to begin, there are matters of growing urgency in the communities
that we serve.
The issue of growing
levels of poverty
In the last month there have been two key reports which
focus on the growing levels of poverty in communities across the UK. The report
published last week by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, ‘UK Poverty 2018’
comes right on the back of the well-publicised visit by the UN
Rapporteur. Both of these confirm the
position for many working people, never mind those who are not currently
employed – is a life-time away from Theresa May’s much quoted ‘JAM’ community –
Just about managing.
Why is this an issue for care? Well large numbers of those 4
million hard working people that the JRF report identifies, holding down a
variety of jobs, juggling caring responsibilities, and coping with significant
challenges in life are busy working in our care sector. Plus in the future,
many of them, having lived long lives of poverty and hardship, will be entering
into our care services.
This leaves me asking a set of key questions about how the
care sector responds to these wider issues. For example, are there ways in
which we can repurpose the care sector as a locality based community anchor?
The approach has been articulated very effectively in the Preston
model, and involves larger institutions such as Universities and Hospitals
refocussing their attention on their local community in their consumption,
employment, development etc…
Care providers on their own might not have the financial or
employment ‘clout’ to make a difference – but together they could create
significant change within the communities they serve by buying collectively,
employing and training together, stimulating and indeed contributing to a
localised supply chain.
How are care providers linked in localities adopting Local Area Coordination, or approaches
underpinned by Asset
Based Community Development to ensure we learn from these strong movements
that recognise our current and potential influence in communities?
In addition, the Care Workers Charity, presents an opportunity for us as a sector to own these issues. By supporting
this charity, that enables workers who experience significant hardship to
receive some immediate funding to address a specific challenge, we are putting
in place the first strands of a safety net.
But there is so much more we can do that will ensure that
workers in care get the support that they need. What are the partnerships you
can develop within your community that might ensure that greater support is
available as and when needed for workers?
I think that whilst we wait endlessly for the Government to
elaborate on the potential for reform of social care, we need to be busy
looking at how we can reform ourselves to play a much bigger and more strategic
role in the communities we serve. We also need to look at how we can cement the
vision of care at the heart of the community, and demonstrate we are in this
relationship for the long term - for richer for poorer - in sickness and in