Proposals for the future of social care

The Department of Health and Social Care are currently working on a Green Paper to put forward proposals for the future of social care. Healthwatch England have been working to shape the scope of this paper, to ensure that the views and preferences of the public are accounted for in the government's proposals. Jeremy Hunt used his recent speech to provide an update on his department's progress and thinking on social care reform, and to outline his seven key principles for the future of social care.

Those key principles are:
1. Quality: while 81% of social care services are rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by CQC, the Secretary of State acknowledged that too many people still receive unacceptable poor care and variation in quality. He said that the CQC’s local system reviews had shown up high levels of local variation in quality, and so he said that the Green paper would take views on expanding the role of CQC to inspect local commissioning practice.

2. Integrating the NHS and social care around the individual: too many people with long-term care needs experience a disconnect between the NHS and social care. To address this the Secretary of State announced three pilot sights for new joint assessments for health and social care, where people would have one joint assessment shared between the NHS and social care.

3. Control: the Secretary of State accepted that the uptake of direct payments has been too slow, so he promised to ‘turbo charge’ the progress on developing integrated personal budgets. As such he announced that his department will be consulting on Personal Health Budgets, with the aim of ensuring that people with long-term health and care needs experience personalised and integrated care and support.

4. Nurture the workforce: the social care workforce are ‘modern day heroes’, though their contribution is often overlooked and undervalued according to the Secretary of State. To address this he committed to developing a workforce strategy for the social care workforce alongside the NHS.

5. An action plan for carers: carer’s make an invaluable contribution to our society. Their contribution is massive and their reward minimal. The Secretary of State acknowledges this and will publish an Action Plan to support carer’s better in the future.

6. A sustainable future: this is essentially the issue of paying for social care, ensuring that it is well resourced and vibrant. Part of the answer according to the Secretary of State lies in innovation and new technology, including housing, aids and adaptations.

7. Security from catastrophic costs: the Secretary of State acknowledged that the current system does not adequately protect people from costs associated with some long-term conditions and that some people face unfair, catastrophic care costs. As such the Green Paper will look at options for better protecting people from these costs, and to find a way to share the costs of care more fairly between the population, and the state.

The green paper will be published in the summer, and these principles will shape it's content and purpose