In his first speech after becoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson promised to “fix the crisis in social care, once and for all”.
It was a welcome commitment to address a vital issue. In the nearly two years since, we have faced some of our most challenging times.
Social care has been visibly on the frontline throughout the pandemic, demonstrating it is not simply a set of services some people need because of age or disability, but is a key means by which people are supported to live their best life, whatever their circumstances.
Despite some helpful short-term support, social care still faces significant financial pressures. Ongoing uncertainty has made it difficult for councils, care providers and other partners to plan beyond the short term.
This is destabilising for people who draw on social care, as they rightly want to know that the support they need will be available in the future.
More broadly, there are many lessons to be learned from the pandemic experience that need to be applied to our thinking about the future reform of care and support (see www.local.gov.uk/future-adult-social-care).
We are part of a group of national adult social care organisations, including the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Skills for Care, the Care Provider Alliance and Think Local, Act Personal, that works on shared priorities and seeks to speak with a single voice on key issues.
Last month, the group published a joint letter to the Government stressing the importance and urgency of adult social care reform (www.local.gov.uk/adult-social-care-reform-our-letter-government).
It called for funding for short-term stabilisation; urgent publication of proposals for reform and investment to secure the long-term future of social care; and short-term investment to support transformation, innovation, prevention, action on inequalities and a new deal for the care workforce.
Reform should be seen as a key part of the wider plan to upgrade England’s infrastructure – and must go further than simply ensuring care costs are capped to prevent people having to sell their homes to pay for care.