The Annual Children’s and Adults’ Social Care Conference (NCASC) is always important: this year’s is pivotal.
In many ways the conference will echo what the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) has been saying loudly and clearly, with colleagues in the Local Government Association (LGA) and organisations from across the care sector. The NHS Confederation, the third sector, and home and residential care providers all share our view: unless the system is fixed, it is going to get more and more broken.
Vicky McDermott, chair of the Care and Support Alliance, put it well at the press conference that launched our sector-wide submission to the spending review: “I do not wish to be sensationalist,” she said, “but unless something is done, people will die.”
On the same panel, Frank Ursell, chief executive of the Registered Nursing Homes Association warned that steps must be taken “to bridge the significant and fast-worsening funding gap that will hit the entire sector over the next five years unless corrective action is taken”.
He also warned that smaller care home owners will find the land value of their properties on the residential market more alluring than trying to sustain an unsustainable business. Colin Angel of the UK Homecare Association was not less supportive. I hope and anticipate that this unprecedented unanimity among organisations that in no way can be considered as natural allies will be maintained.
It hasn’t been all bad news. We have made a huge success of implementing phase one of the Care Act. More and more deprivation of liberty safeguards have been carried out, and the skills social and care workers bring across the country is being recognised.
Meanwhile a variety of initiatives have been undertaken to squeeze value out of every remaining pot of finance. Our staff have, despite the pressures, remained amazingly loyal and steadfast.
Despite that, basic and vital institutions within the social care sector – be they inspectorial, regulatory or educational –increasingly find it difficult to perform their tasks with the same confidence that they have had in the past.
Unless Frank Ursell’s “corrective action” is taken the situation could worsen, the lack of funding will drain social care of its ambitions, new recruits and capacity to mend and stitch together.
At Bournemouth, we will hear not only of the grave risks to social care but also of the remarkable contribution of citizens, carers, and frontline staff up and down the country. I hope that it is not too much to ask that we will also hear from ministers about their commitment to funding the welcome announcement of the living wage and the ever growing gap in council funded adult social care.
Ray James, president, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, and director of health, housing and adult social care, Enfield LBC