During Covid, the very nature of visiting elderly or vulnerable people during a pandemic became infinitely more complicated, as they were amongst the most at-risk groups to be affected by the respiratory condition. Low paid carers went to extraordinary lengths to continue to deliver care, against a backdrop of staffing issues, problems with access and PPE, and health risks. Friends and family were unable to visit loved ones, or be with them in their final moments, which itself took a toll on relatives’ mental health. Those requiring care were often left confused and saddened by the situation. This was a feature of news reports at the time and brought home to everyone the impact the illness was having. It has truly been an ordeal, both for those receiving the care and those providing it.
As we all recover from the impact of Covid, be it physically, mentally or financially, we need to look at innovative ways of funding and operating this complex, multi-faceted area. In the current situation, with the population still reeling from the crisis brought about by Covid, it is easy to look for short term solutions to immediate problems. What we should be doing is thinking much longer term. For example, what will be needed in terms of social care for our elderly population in 2030, or 2040 and beyond?
As well as going towards NHS spending, the recently announced funds from the increase in National Insurance contributions will also be used to pay for a cap on the costs people face if they need social care. This can include help at home, with visiting or live-in carers, or a move into a care home. The plan for England is that from 2023, no-one will pay more than £86,000 for the care they need for daily tasks, such as washing, dressing and eating. But items such as food and household bills do not count towards the cap and will still have to be funded, so a significant proportion of people receiving care will still have to find the money for these additional costs.
Searching for security for care
In common with other traditionally low wage sectors, we are currently seeing significant staff shortages in social care with providers saying they are struggling to recruit. What the sector needs now is some security and sustainability, with providers able to pay higher wages in order to attract and, crucially, retain greater numbers of staff. Against the backdrop of this shortfall in carers, worrying questions are being raised about a consistent high quality of care that providers can offer.
Whichever way social care is funded – either by Local Authorities or self-funders, what’s needed is a way to preserve the fundamental quality of what is provided, without impacting the cost.
At C.Co, we help organisations with transformational ambitions to look at how and where they can improve their efficiency and service. When it comes to social care, we work with both providers and commissioners so we can be independent and objective. Our Cost of Care exercise pays no attention to the income source – but works through the true cost of care and ultimately the rates needed to deliver fair, consistent, quality and sustainable care, irrespective of who is paying the bill.
Going forward, the solution to this decades-long conundrum of how to find adequate funds for social care will involve multiple parties working together towards a common goal and sharing aspects such as best-practice and knowledge. The challenges the pandemic has deepened have shone a light on areas where timely improvements need to be made. But most importantly, it has galvanised everyone to tackle this sector with focus and should enable us all to look ahead to the future with a clear plan.
Contact the C.Co team to find out more.