Sam Monaghan, the CEO of MHA, sets out the key ways in which we can address the crisis in the social care system… including recognising, rewarding and retaining the people already working in it.
The membership body for Directors of Adult Care and Social Services (ADASS), has published their spring survey, where they paint a picture of the current landscape within social care and call on the Government to make social care a priority.
As part of the solution, the report makes a compelling case for both prevention services, and for investment in our skilled care workforce to fix social care.
In April I hosted our Walter Hall Seminar on this very subject, to shine a light on why care workers are a key solution to delivering services, supporting local communities and enabling people to live later life well. And at MHA, we work with around 18,000 older people, enabling them to live do just that.
According to ADASS, there are over 400,000 people nationwide waiting for care. One thing we could do to make a dent in these staggering numbers is to turn our attention to the 165,000 staff vacancies in social care. As a sector, we struggle to recruit and retain the staff we need to deliver care to the growing numbers of people who need it.
It’s clear to me that people working in care deserve to be better recognised for their skilled work, and at the same time we must address the travesty of valuable care workers leaving to work in other sectors.
“Unfair to Care”
As part of their “Unfair to Care”’” campaign, Community Integrated Care found that care workers are paid £7,000 less than public sector workers with similar skills such as teaching assistants and police community support officers. At MHA, we do everything we can to prioritise good pay for our colleagues, who are amongst the best paid in the sector. But we want to be able to do more and this needs Government support.
Also in their report, ADASS make the case for preventative services in meeting people’s needs and aspirations, and in reducing the need for further interventions. ADASS’ former President, Sarah McClinton articulated this well when she said we need to look at the front door – not just the back door – of the NHS.
The Government is right to address “the back door” and put in extra funding to address people being in hospital longer than they need to be, through delayed discharges. But there’s so much potential to prevent people from needing to go into hospital.
Why prevention matters
Wellbeing and preventative services play a crucial role in keeping people well and independent for as long as possible. At MHA we understand very well the positive effect that wellbeing and community support have on older people’s health and wellbeing. In a survey, 86% of members said that their physical health had improved as a result of being a member of MHA Communities. Exercise classes dedicated to strength and balance are preventing falls for example, while social groups reduce loneliness and isolation. Worryingly, 52% of ADASS directors said that they are “less confident” that their budgets will meet their statutory duty on prevention and wellbeing, a 12% increase on last year.
ADASS highlights some critical issues for the social care sector, with hundreds of thousands of people still waiting for care and Government reforms on the backburner. The Government should take note of ADASS’ recommendations, and make social care a priority. They could start by investing in preventative services and long-term funding and support to the social care sector – especially its workforce.
MHA is campaigning to help people live later life well. Subscribe to MHA’s newsletter to find out about their campaign to Fix Care For All.