Social Care faces system collapse

by Adam Carter, Managing Director

Care England, the largest representative body for independent social care providers has released a new report on the state of social care, warning that the whole system could collapse unless providers and commissioners work together and more nurses are recruited into the independent sector.

The report, ‘Sustainability, Innovation and Empowerment: A Five Year Vision for the Independent Social Care Sector,’ states that the next five years will be crucial to sustain the important care and support services that so many people in the UK are reliant on. It also emphasizes the critical contribution that the independent sector can make to help avert a real crisis for the NHS and Exchequer.

Indeed, Professor Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England has called for a more collaborative system, arguing that it makes little sense to separate primary, hospital and social care when the majority of people with long-term conditions use all three. Green stated that, “evolutionary rather than revolutionary changes are needed, with different elements of the system working together rather than in silos.”

Care England is taking measures to address these issues. For a start, members have assisted local authorities by making efficiency savings to help balance out below inflationary fee rises and freezes. However, the problem is that this is no longer enough and quite simply cannot be maintained. As a result, we are seeing more and more cases of Judicial Review and increasing provider attrition – neither commissioners nor providers can afford the former, and residents for cannot afford the latter.

A new hybrid nurse-worker role is also currently being developed with hopes to ease the existing nursing shortage and the additional pressure that it places on the care home, acute sector and commissioning budgets.

The role, which would combine that of a care worker and a nurse, could cut care home costs, as they wouldn’t need to employ as many nurses. It is also thought that this position will facilitate career progression for current registered nurses, enabling them to take on more of a leadership, supervisory role, also helping with retention.

Though these initiatives are certainly a step forward, there is still major supply-side problem and it is imperative that the Government urgently address if the nursing home sector is to survive.

You can view the report here.