Government launches consultation to address workforce challenges in adult social care sector

Government launches consultation to address workforce challenges in adult social care sector

The government will publish a green paper on social care for older people by summer 2018, it announced today.

In advance of the paper it has invited a number of people to provide advice, including representatives from social care and health organisations – such as Sir David Behan, chief executive of the Care Quality Commission – as well as from the financial industry. Among these are Nigel Wilson, chief executive of Legal and General, the insurance and life cover group.

Also invited is Sir Andrew Dilnot, the former chair of the Commission on the Funding of Care and Support. It reported in 2011 and its recommendation to introduce a lifetime cap on care costs was put into law through the Care Act 2014 but has not yet been implemented.

However, there are no representatives from social care professional bodies or service user groups on the list of invitees, although the government said it would “work with independent experts, stakeholders and users to shape the long-term reforms that will be proposed in the green paper”.

Damian Green, the First Secretary of State and minister for the Cabinet Office, said: “An ageing population needs a long-term solution for care, but building a sustainable support system will require some big decisions.

‘Build consensus’

“In developing the green paper, it is right that we take the time needed to debate the many complex issues and listen to the perspectives of experts and care users, to build consensus around reforms which can succeed.”

The green paper will be subject to a full public consultation after it is published in summer 2018.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said it was “reassured” that the government was “setting out its commitment to address the social care crisis so that real action can begin”.

He added: “The [2017 general] election showed that the public are hungry for social care reform, but with the paper not expected until summer, they will have had another year of waiting. If there has been no true progress by then we, and people with dementia, will be asking big questions of the government.”

Working-age adults

Margaret Willcox, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), also welcomed news of the green paper, saying: “It is right that all members of society, many of whom are likely to need some form of care in their lives, will have a say on the future funding of care and delivery of care services.

“We are also encouraged that the Government will undertake a parallel programme of work focusing on issues for working-age adults, as financial pressures due to the increasing care needs of younger adults with disabilities or mental health problems are now greater than those due to supporting older people, which our Budget survey highlighted this year.

“This Paper presents a once in a lifetime opportunity to reform adult social care for everyone who needs it and to address the issue of funding after 2020 when the extra £2 billion for social care runs out.”

Dr Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, welcomed the government’s plans to consult with care users ahead of the publication of the green paper.

She said: “As the Government have recognised in their announcement today, we need a long-term sustainable funding solution for adult social care that means everyone has good access to good quality social care when they need it. Action also needs to be taken now, including increased funding for social care in the autumn budget.”

Gordon Carson, Community Care – November 2017

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