Strength in numbers: Support for social care that can't be ignored | Glen Garrod

Glen Garrod

When 15 different health and third sector organisations say social care needs a long-term financial settlement, it must be time for change. Glen Garrod, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, finds encouragement in the NHS Confederation-led Health for Care coalition and sets the scene in the first of our Health for Care blogs.

When others talk about why the sector one represents (adult social care) is important, it seems to me to be infinitely preferable (and probably more powerful) than advocating for oneself. This was the premise of a conversation with Niall Dickson and his team at the NHS Confederation that probably goes back to early 2018. 'Health for Care' embodies this ethos. What I find remarkable is the number of organisations, from many of the Royal Colleges to large third sector organisations and NHS bodies, that have agreed to advocate for social care and not just because it self-evidently has a significant contribution to make to the effectiveness of health services but because it serves a wider, equally valued role.

Social care employs some 1.5 million people (bigger than the NHS workforce) with legislative powers to safeguard, assess need, ensure liberty is protected, support a local social care economy of providers and secure wider population wellbeing. We have so much in common; a great deal of distinctive contributions to the collective good of local communities. Yet, so often social care is left as the poor relation, subject to short-term, disjointed and partial solutions from successive governments that have seen social care in the 'too difficult to do’ box – poorly understood, undervalued and unsupported other than through the narrow prism of what it can do to support hospital discharge.

The lexicon of social care has become diminished to a limited set of services that not everyone wants. Yet, at best it helps people live a life otherwise beyond their ability to achieve – to have a friend, stay connected and live independently – elements of a life that Duncan Selbie, the chief executive of Public Health England, would say are critical building blocks to a good life. Social care also has a much stronger, longer lexicon in the area of social justice – concerned with how the state supports its own people, concerned with homelessness, substance misuse, loneliness and isolation and domestic violence. It seems few in government are listening or even interested at this moment.

So, when 15 different health and third sector organisations say social care needs, indeed deserves, a long-term financial settlement, it indicates recognition and need for change – not just in how government supports health, social care and others to connect better to meeting community needs, it also suggests a value base about what makes a good society.      

Glen Garrod is president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS). Follow him on Twitter @GlenGarrod

Find out more about Health for Care and sign the petition to give social care the funding it needs.

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