Successive governments spanning decades have failed to address the worsening crisis in social care. Well over one million adults in England are not receiving the care and support they need to live healthy and dignified lives. To make matters worse, failures in social care are worsening pressures on our NHS.
Despite the main parties having placed the NHS at the front and centre of their general election campaigns, each of them must acknowledge that improvements to the health service will be unachievable without the delivery of an improved and better-funded social care system.
That is why the Health for Care coalition – a coalition of 15 national health organisations, led by the NHS Confederation – has launched the #FixSocialCare campaign ahead of the general election on 12th December 2019.
Our #FixSocialCare campaign aims to draw the attention of both prospective parliamentary candidates and the electorate to the crisis in social care. In doing so, we are also encouraging candidates up and down the country to take the Health for Care Pledge.
The Health for Care coalition was established by a total of 15 national health organisations in March 2019. The coalition represents everyone from NHS staff and patients, to NHS trust leaders and health charities. Since its establishment, the coalition has called on government and parliamentarians to deliver a long-term, funding settlement for social care in England.
Health organisations established this coalition because those working within the NHS and the health sector witness, every day and first-hand, the impact that the social care crisis is having on people’s lives. They also witness how much pressure the social care crisis is placing on the already-strained NHS.
Siobhan Melia, Chief Executive of Sussex Community NHS Foundation Trust, recently told the NHS Confederation:
“Vulnerable people are facing unacceptable delays in accessing the care that they need due to a dearth of provision of social care packages. This means that NHS teams are caring for people longer than they need to, placing increased demand on community and hospital services.”
Member organisations of the Health for Care coalition include:
- The NHS Confederation
- The Mental Health Network (part of the NHS Confederation)
- NHS Clinical Commissioners (part of the NHS Confederation)
- NHS Providers
- The National Association of Primary Care
- The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges
- The Royal College of General Practitioners
- The Royal College of Physicians
- The University Hospitals Association
- The Richmond Group of Charities
- The Shelford Group
- The British Geriatric Society
- The Patients Association
- National Voices
- Healthwatch England
The Health for Care coalition believes that the social care crisis is not just about unmet need. At present, the social care system in England is failing people in varying ways and against multiple measures.
Despite 122,000 vacancies in the adult social care sector and over five million people providing unpaid care, the care workforce continues to be undervalued and underpaid.
The care system is also riddled with injustice. While those suffering from certain illnesses (such as cancer) receive free state-funded social care, those with other severely restrictive illnesses (such as dementia) can be forced to pay into the hundreds of thousands of pounds for their care.
To make matters worse, the complexity of the English social care system, with regards to funding and provision, contributes significantly to the inaccessibility of desperately needed care and support.
The Health for Care coalition has adopted Seven Key Principles upon which a new social care system in England should be based.
Health for Care’s Seven Key Principles:
- Sharing costs: A system providing the care people need – free at the point of use – should be funded by universal and compulsory financial contributions. This may require differences in when, how, and how much people pay towards the care system.
- Fair eligibility: Eligibility should be based on need and must be widened to ensure that those of any age with unmet or under-met need have access to appropriate support. Eligibility must also guarantee parity of esteem across physical, mental and cognitive health.
- Improving integration: Health and care services should be designed to work more effectively together, with personalised care and prevention at the heart of both services. Health and care services should deliver treatment and care at the right time and place and guarantee maximum personal control to the recipients of care.
- Sustainability: Establishing a sustainable social care system will require closing the existing funding gap in the short-term, as well as establishing a permanent funding settlement that would enable both members of the public and care providers to plan for their long-term future. Levels of funding should also sustain a diverse and stable market of providers.
- Valuing the workforce: More workers should be recruited to, and retained within, the care sector. Furthermore, those who work within the care sector should be offered sufficient pay, higher quality training (along with the protected time away from work to undertake training), opportunities for career progression, and new career paths.
- Supporting carers: Unpaid carers should be eligible for increased support from the state. Additionally, offers of care should not be reduced on the basis that someone may be a recipient or possible recipient of informal care.
- Accessibility: The criteria and assessment process for receiving state-funded care should be simple enough for everyone to understand, with guidance on offers of care to be made widely available. In addition, assessments of individuals’ care needs should be conducted by appropriately-trained assessors.
You can support our campaign by engaging with the #FixSocialCare hashtag on Twitter and encouraging general election candidates in your constituency to take the campaign’s Pledge. Parliamentary candidates can take the #FixSocialCare Pledge by either sharing on Twitter either sharing this GIF, or sharing a photograph of themselves with this printable PDF.
You may even want to add our #FixSocialCare Twibbon to your profile picture on Twitter or Facebook.
You can also sign our petition to Give social care the funding it needs, which at present has more than 150,000 signatures.
General election campaign pack for parliamentary candidates
Health for Care campaign pack for parliamentary candidates ahead of the general election on 12 December 2019.
15 November 2019
Resources and information
Crisis in care
Now is the time for MPs to work together with health and social care to agree a solution to the unfairness faced by people left to struggle each day
4 June 2019