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Even more talk and still no action – another week in the social care debate

I am not sure how many more think tank reports and research pieces need to be published to convince the Government to tackle the current state of social care.

On my drive between clients today the debate reached Prime Ministers Question Time – but will this actually be converted into any action? Social care issues have been climbing up the political agenda for years…but as the Cinderella service to the NHS it has been very much a case of one step forward and many more steps back.

Take the Care Act 2014.

April this year was supposed to mark the introduction of the ‘care cap’, with the aim of providing certainty to self funders about the amount they would be expected to pay for their care.  Whilst the proposals were by no means perfect, they were a step forward and created the potential to foster the development of new care related insurance products.  It was disappointing when the introduction was quietly shelved on the basis that it was too expensive, and delayed until 2020 at the earliest.

Today we can expect another announcement about further increases to council tax bills to help plug the gap, but what strikes me most is that this is exactly the type of announcement that has contributed to the current crisis; carefully considered and evidence based proposals such as the care cap are postponed in favour of short term and reactionary measures.

The fact is that social care needs more than a sticking plaster, and it’s not just about the money.  The divide between health and social care creates more problems than it solves, not least contributing to delayed discharges, emergency hospital readmissions and distress and uncertainty for the individual caught between the two systems.  On top of this families are often given confusing and unhelpful information which I think is intended to “steer” their decision making down a care pathway that is easiest for the organisations involved rather than the best option for the person concerned.  And this is all happening at one of the most stressful and difficult times of their lives.

Whatever the next announcement holds, I am not confident this ad hoc approach will provide a long term solution.

I don’t of course have all the answers.  But I spend a lot of time thinking up solutions – you would too if you supported some of the wonderful people that I do; engineers, explorers, carers, speed typists, nurses, athletes and code breakers just this month – people - NOT a burden and OR a statistic.

By Louise Courtney, Solicitor

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