A recent report by the King's Fund and Nuffield Trust highlights the pressures that the current social care system is under. Six consecutive years of cuts to local authority budgets have seen 26% fewer people get help. Of particular concern is the finding that no one has a full picture of what has happened to older people who are no longer entitled to publicly funded care.
Their assessment of national data and in-depth interviews in four unnamed local authority areas found that the past six years have also brought huge pressures on the social care market. Factors that have affected this include central government grant reductions to local authorities (which have been passed on to care providers in the form of reduced fees, or below inflation increases), shortages of nurses and care workers, higher regulatory standards and the introduction of the National Living Wage.
The report sets out three major strategic challenges facing policy-makers in shaping adult social care over the next five years:
Achieving more with less - their view is that current policies will not be enough to meet immediate funding needs and that changes, including the acceleration of Better Care Fund monies, are required
A different offer - if there isn't sufficient monies to fund the current system, a new framework will need to be developed which may involve difficult conversations about the scope of care available in future
Long-term reform - "A frank and open debate is needed on how to fund health and social care on a sustainable basis into the future, recognising that a long-term strategy will exceed the lifetime of a single parliament."
A copy of the full report is available from The King's Fund website along with an article - Overcoming the challenges to improve health and wellbeing in care homes