By Sophie Coles

I read a report recently by the Future Social Care Coalition which discusses the concept of ‘Carenomics’.  Carenomics uses extensive evidence to outline the economic case for putting more money into the care sector.

The necessity for the government to make Social Care its priority is crystal clear.

The report makes five key points:

  1. Investing in social care powers up growth
  2. Investing in social care will help unlock the labour market and support business
  3. Investing in social care supports levelling up
  4. Investing in social care is value for money
  5. Investing in social care builds a purposeful economy.

The report reveals that social care makes up over 1.7m jobs in England alone, and the sector generates over £50bn for England’s economy.

The social care sector has been haemorrhaging staff for a number of years, and despite it being a critical service, four out of five UK jobs still pay more than social care work.  As of August 2023, 165,000 vacancies were believed to exist in England; nearly 11% of roles in adult social care.

Sadly, the government has allowed the care sector to become significantly underfunded and fragmented; it is clear on why social care staff are leaving the sector and moving to roles where T&C’s and pay are much better.

Investing in care is a strategic imperative

The report’s authors point out that for every £1 invested, £1.75 is generated in the wider economy. They conclude that investing in social care is not only a matter of social justice but also a strategic imperative.

The domino effect

When I think about the impacts of the lack of investment in social care, I think of the imagery of watching a falling row of dominoes and the knock-on effect of one domino falling and its impact on the rest in the line.

I have worked in this field for the last 20 years, that’s 23 if I include my pre-degree time, and the domino effect has been clear to me for the duration of my time working in the sector.

A lack of investment in social care equals increased avoidable hospital admissions.

A lack of investment in social care equals increased delayed discharges; people deteriorating in hospital and losing function; often then needing more help.

A lack of investment in social care equals additional pressures on already stretched NHS services.

A lack of investment in social care equals families reaching breaking points and can have devasting impacts on health, wellbeing, dignity and quality of life for people.

Social care matters to all of us

At some point in our lives, we will all come face-to-face with the social care sector.  Whether through a family member becoming ill, or we ourselves requiring intervention.  Or perhaps an unexpected hospital admission means we require reablement or rehab or, maybe one of our ageing friends requires additional support.

Social care matters.  Social care reform cannot continue to be ducked.  Decisive action by government and provision of truly adequate funding will enable the system to be sustainable.  This means real transformation of the system is non-negotiable.

In August 2022, Care England called for the government to intervene to help remedy the agency staff crisis in the sector and to address wider workforce pressures.  They described how the planned £500m which was being generated via the Health and Social Care Levy for the workforce over the next three years only equates to 5.7p per hour for each sector employee.  As you will remember, this Levy was cancelled.

In the November 2022 Autumn Statement, the government then announced that the cap and means test reforms would also be pushed back until October 2025.

There is a real risk that these aspects of social care reform are never going to be implemented as a general election is to be held no later than January 2025.

Optimising current resources

While we wait in hope for clear government plans for social care, we need to ensure that we are doing everything we can to optimise the resources that we have available to us now.

C.Co has been heavily involved in Fair Cost of Care exercises over the last 18 months in particular, but have been working with Councils on this subject matter for more than six years.

C.Co has a programme of work called, ‘Maximising Proportionate Care’, where we support local authorities, Integrated Care Systems and the NHS to maximise their care resources through conducted robust risk assessments and utilising more dynamic moving & handling techniques and equipment.

C.Co also has a programme of work around the Better Care Fund and how systems can utilise this Fund to optimise and maximise its resources.

Get support for CQC inspections

Most recently, C.Co has developed an offer for local authorities around the upcoming CQC inspections.  From 1 April 2023, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has new powers to assess local authorities in England. It will be looking at how well local authorities meet their duties under the Care Act (2014).  The CQC started formal assessments of local authorities last month.

It is true that CQC inspections can be a nerve-racking experience.  ‘Blind panic’, ‘anxiety’, ‘stress’ and ‘pressure’ may all be words that spring to mind when you hear the words ‘CQC Inspection’.  Understanding what the CQC expects from you can help you be prepared for inspection and demonstrate that you are delivering.  C.Co’s independent CQC Inspection Readiness Healthcheck enables local authorities to determine how well you are performing in the areas that the CQC will inspect against.

Effecting effective change

We can absolutely effect change.  Yes, we need broader change and commitments from the government but we can act together to assure ourselves that we are doing everything in our power to make the best possible changes.

Get in touch with C.Co today to discuss how we can help you deliver optimally in the current challenging environments we face.