The government is not treating adult social care as an equal to the NHS in the drive for the integration of services, according to the new president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.
Julie Ogley, who is director of social care, health and housing at Central Bedfordshire Council, told LGC social care is continuing to be treated as subordinate to health in sustainability and transformation partnerships and the process of developing them into integrated care systems.
“It just feels as that direction is a health direction and a health perspective and there is not a similar perspective coming from the Department of Health & Social Care for adult social care,” she said. “It doesn’t feel like a meeting of equals.”
Ms Ogley highlighted the absence of the promised social care green paper and lack of a national workforce strategy for social care, at a time when the NHS Long-term plan and an NHS draft workforce strategy have been published, as evidence of the imbalance.
During her inaugural speech at the Adass Spring seminar on 30 April, Ms Ogley said she feels the future of social care “is being determined through the plans of others” and said the future direction of integration was uncertain.
She added councils had warned a single focus on delayed transfers of care would not be a “fix for systems”, highlighting that delays due to social care had been reduced while hospitals were still struggling.
Ms Ogley welcomed the NHS Long Term Plan’s focus on primary and community services but said social care directors must work to keep integration plans “honest”.
“[We need] to keep social care and the social model and our values high on the agenda alongside good medical and nursing care, along with therapies in the community helping people stay well for longer with fewer emergency admissions to hospital,” she said.
Ms Ogley told LGC the variety in locally-driven approaches to social care are important as councils are best-placed to understand the needs of their population.
In her speech, Ms Ogley laid down a challenge to her colleagues to consider whether current approaches to social care are effective.
She said: “Is [the model] what you would want for you and for your families?
“Are we truly embracing technology and digitisation, in how our workforce operates and how care is delivered?”