Do we have feelings of inferiority? You bet we do!
By guest blogger JEF SMITH
Of the nineteen formal announcements published by the Department of Health and Social Care in the month follwing Christmas, not one related directly to social care. Obesity, infectious and incurable diseases, suicide prevention, GPs, air pollution, maternity, mental health and of course IT – the Secretary of State’s signature issue – all enjoyed moments in the spotlight, some of them several times, but of the policy area purportedly given equal prominence to health in the department’s title, not a whisper.
Actually, that’s not quite true. The NHS Long Term Plan, published on 7 January, has a short section on providing decent NHS support to care homes, though the promise to achieve this, surely elementary, objective no earlier than 2023/24 will be cold comfort for current residents; most of them, to put it bluntly, will be dead before then. The few other references to non-NHS services in the community – support for carers, dementia, falls prevention and so on – often approach the issue through the simplistic lens of preventing hospital admissions or discharging patients as early as possible. There is little about the improvements in the quality of life of elderly people and people with disabilities which social care is designed to provide.
Of course, one might say, we must wait for the Social Care Green Paper. OK – cliche alert – we’ve waited and waited, and are still waiting. The need to co-ordinate the Green Paper’s content with the NHS Plan was one of the reasons given for its delay back in 2018; now, the 2019 Spending Review is being quoted as a necessary preliminary hurdle, though that process depends, like just about everything else, on the unpredictability of relations with the rest of Europe.
In truth, it will be difficult for the Green Paper to say anything meaningful without tacking the issue of funding, whether it’s the question of how to balance individual and state contributions to the cost of care or the broader issue of providing resources for this historically underfunded and latterly even further depleted area of provision. Please, please do not fob us off with no more than another set of injunctions to co-operate with our colleagues in the NHS. With big brother Health and great-uncle Brexit dominating politics, social care is surely justified in feeling seriously neglected.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.