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By Debbie le Quesne

Still waiting for the Care Act to deliver

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I was reminded that it’s been more than a year since the Care Act was implemented. Last month saw the milestone pass by quietly . . . except for a report by industry big-player accountants KPMG, who offer advisory analytics to the care sector.

The paper, entitled “Reimagine Local Government – Time for the Care Act to Deliver, pulls no punches and is a timely wake-up call.

KPMG Director, Andrew Webster, outlined the promise of a better future in a Guardian article. He wrote: “It is now more than 12 months since the implementation of the Care Act, a legislative success many years in the making.

“The act spoke of fair and equal access to support services, vibrant and diverse care provider markets and of people having information about how and when to access services. It was to be a fundamental change in the foundations of social care.

In the run up to its implementation, local councils focused on what the act would mean for them. Directors and professional leaders sought to ensure their colleagues understood how services would need to change and momentum built behind the changes.”

But something seems to have gone wrong. In his words there is a “real risk this momentum has stalled.”

Significantly, he writes: “Instead of surveying a diverse care market, we read headlines about providers considering an exit from the sector.

“Council websites are filled with pages about getting recycling bins or parking permits, but little about how to have a grab rail installed so you can stay in your home safely. For now, the vision of the Care Act largely feels just that: a vision rather than a reality.”

He adds: ”The idea of councils as responsive organisations, guiding people to the best care, is the correct one. It is not only right for the wellbeing of our population, it is right in today’s financially constrained public sector.

“Fewer resources are forcing councils to consider making more radical changes to care, in the same way as they have already changed other services.”

He advises: “Councils should strike a new deal with local people, making it clear both sides have a responsibility to maintain independence and wellbeing. That means everyone acting quickly when long-term care starts to be needed. People have to raise the issue before reaching the point where they need care at home, and councils need to respond with accurate advice about local services.”

With a call that councils should raise their digital game to get simple, but still put comprehensive information ‘out there’ on social care, he acknowledges “all of this costs money.”

Added into his mix is a suggestion that all major local care providers should be brought together into one room; “not to drive prices even lower but to work out how to help providers thrive, support new services coming to market and create a digital platform offering access to these new services.”

These initiatives would then be supported by councils investing in training for specific staff groups, building investment in health technology into their economic growth plan, or working with schools to develop better ways to keep young people healthy.

The possible “foundation of the new era promised by the Care Act?”

Great ideas, but I suspect currently out of reach for too many people. One of the major problems we have as an Association is persuading people outside of our membership to talk to us and each other.

What a difference that would make. Not perfect, but a start . . .

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Written by debbielq

July 4, 2016 at 11:54 am

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