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By Debbie le Quesne

Unified funding approach to homecare: A call to back changes

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The care bill – there’s no need to shudder, yet – is being brought into sharp focus next Tuesday at the United Kingdom Homecare Association’s England conference.

The association represents more than 2,000 members across the United Kingdom, in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland whose care is dispensed into homes.

It’s serious body of members and their chief executive Bridget Warr is keen to rally them to help make change happen.

Truth is, it will happen with or without their blessing and the same applies to WMCA. Like it, ot lump it care is changing – forever.

There is a strong emphasis in the care bill on improving people’s overall wellbeing, which shifts the emphasis from a remedial, “deficit” based system, to one which seeks to take pre-emptive, preventive and supportive measures.

A noble charter, that according to Ms Warr, writing in The Guardian, marks a “recognition that this will necessitate a move towards a more integrated approach to the design and delivery of social and health care services.”

I agree. She adds: “But we can’t just wish the changes needed into place – we need to make change happen. And, understanding that there are finite resources, it’s not just about making more money available, but it certainly is about spending the money that is already in the health and social care budgets smarter.”

She argues well the point that people over 65 accounted for 7 million (46%), of the 15 million adult hospital admissions in England last year. “It doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to work out the potentially significant cost savings that could be made in the health budget, if even a small proportion of these admissions, which often become unnecessarily extended periods in hospital, could be avoided, or discharges brought forward, by the use of appropriately deployed, community-based social care.”

This is to many in the care industry commonsense. But as I have intimated before there are huge financial and political hurdles to overcome.

The current separate health and social care budgets, with fragmented responsibilities for planning, commissioning and funding services are systemic barriers to the design and delivery of integrated services, writes Ms Warr.

Quite how noble sentiment is translated into delivery is going to be interesting, but I dearly hope the Cabinet don’t think that this initiative will self-fund from day one, though it has huge potential for hospital savings if at a domiciliary level more resources can be deployed.

Ms Warr points out that “this kind of approach will require the players in the supply chain for previously separate elements of people’s care solutions to come together at an earlier stage and collaborate in new ways, in order to enable them to support improvements in people’s overall wellbeing more effectively. “

Speakers at her conference include movers and shakers from  central government, local government, workforce development, the NHS, and the care regulator.

Oh to be a fly on the wall as the debates begin. I’ll be keeping an eye out for the Press releases.

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