The start of a new year is usually a time for looking forward to the future and for setting new plans and goals. But for many, the new year brings with it new struggles and concerns when it comes to caring for their loved ones and navigating the complexities of adult social care.
A recent news piece showed that care costs in Cheshire have escalated to £9,000 per week for one person when it comes to the most complex of care needs. The council is forecasting a £5 million overspend on its adult social care budget at the end of the financial year.
An article from The Health Foundation discusses the crisis and explores the facts that many people go without the care they need and that reliance on unpaid carers is disproportionately high. Pay and conditions for adult social care workers are poor and there’s a knock-on effect for the NHS with increasing pressures in hospitals to make up for the shortfall.
The article calls for a fundamental reform of social care funding, emphasising the importance that it should become a priority for the next government. Three options are presented, providing basic protection for all against some of the costs of care, protecting people with the greatest lifetime care needs, or introducing an NHS-style model of universal and comprehensive care.
The government has just announced a £500 million increase for social care authorities, a rise in the funding guarantee from 3% to 4%, but there are fears amongst local government leaders that this will not be enough, and that it will only support the most distressed of councils for a few extra months.
The chair of the Local Government Association’s resources board commented that in providing this last-minute additional funding, the Conservative government has acknowledged that the crisis in local government finance is real, and that it’s not just a matter of badly run councils having issues.
There are also concerns that plans for the new funding have a heavier focus on care for children rather than adult social care. CEO of The Care Workers’ Charity, Karolina Gerlich, explains that while social care for children is crucial, it’s also imperative to acknowledge the substantial gap in adult social care funding. Estimates from the Health Care Foundation indicate the need for £8.4bn by 2024/25, and £18.4bn by 2032/33, emphasising the requirement for a more long-term solution.
The new funding is certainly a step in the right direction, but the adult social care system in the UK is still one which will struggle, this year and beyond, if more is not done to support the current crisis. Meaningful adult social care reform will require additional government funding for fairer support to the ageing population and the families who are struggling to provide the level of care they deserve.