Care sector: A ticking time bomb?

As the population ages the care sector will have an ever more vital role to play in society. How is it placed to meet the challenges that it faces on so many fronts? We brought our panel of experts to Preston North End’s Deepdale stadium to discuss the issues at an event hosted by Slater and Gordon.

Care sector debate

PRESENT: Richard Slater ~ Lancashire Business View (Chair) • Rachel Adamson ~ Slater and Gordon • Jonathan Enston ~ Slater and Gordon • Tracey Bush ~ Spiral Health • Glyn Jones ~ Lancaster University • Amanda Latham ~ KPMG • Dan Morgan ~ The Care Revolution • Immi Patel ~ RBS • Adele Thornburn ~ East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group

What are the problems facing the care sector and how do we solve them?

Dan Morgan: The biggest issue is funding of care placements. There needs to be a culture change in the way people look at care.

Thirty years ago people would be more inclined to look after members of their own family. That’s not the case anymore.

Glyn Jones: It’s focusing away from care, in terms of health education. Unless we look at prevention we are going to overwhelm the whole of the care sector.

Adele Thornburn: Prevention is right at the top of the agenda and has been from the outset.

There’s sometimes difficulty in applying the level of funding needed because of all the immediate health and social care needs. It is a challenge.

Unfortunately, over the last 20 or so years the regulated care sector has become marginalised and there’s a lot of negative media around care and care homes.

As a result there is a lot of ignorance about what the sector can provide and the challenges it faces. There needs to be recognition that they are an absolutely critical, fundamental partner to health and social care.

Tracey Bush: We need to concentrate on empowering, supporting and valuing the workforce because some fantastic work goes on that isn’t showcased. Working in a supermarket is often more appealing than working in a home and supporting our elderly. That’s not right.

Amanda Latham: If you’re an NHS organisation and you are struggling you are given the cash. So there are NHS trusts with millions of pounds deficit every year. The care sector is funded differently, through local authorities and individuals, and hasn’t got that protection.

In a lot of cases the reason the trusts have got such massive deficits is because their hospitals are full of people who could be in a care or nursing home, or looked after in the community. It’s not because the money’s not out there.

Trusts have to come to the table and work with social care; they have to look at the win-wins. The public doesn’t understand where NHS care stops and social care starts.

Local authorities have faced multi-million pound cuts and social care is one of their biggest budgets.

Glyn Jones: Is it time for a national care service that brings the protections the NHS has and also coordinates, shares and aligns those individual and fragmented services?

Adele Thornburn: There is a lot of investment being made around joint health and social care initiatives. We have to acknowledge that people should be allowed to live how they want to live and support them back into their own home and then see whether they can manage, and look at long-term residential care as a possible solution.

Rachel Adamson: That’s an increase in domiciliary care, again part of the regulated sector, and it’s really important to get the workforce involved. Domiciliary care staff have notoriously been poorly treated and it’s seen as a very unattractive job to go into. Adele Thornburn: In another area of the country people trying to recruit found if they advertised for personal assistants they had a much better response than if they advertised for carers.
  • For the full debate, see the January/February edition of Lancashire Business View.