In our discussions with Directors of Adult Social Services, a consensus is emerging that adult social care is reaching a key inflection point. This is a critical moment for sector leaders to address the challenges facing the sector and shape the future of social care.
It now looks certain that in less than two months, adult social care will become the first public service to have two dedicated taxes; the confirmed NI rise kicks in from 1 April, billed as a Health and Care Levy – joining the social care precept. Yet arguably this is one of the minor changes that will hit us.
There are two possible futures for social care.
One involves hunkering down, seeking to do more for less, using waiting lists and bureaucracy to ration, chasing small funding pots. Ultimately working to incorporate policy changes into current systems with as little disruption as possible.
The other involves boldly claiming a new future. Setting a clear path to make the most of this emerging complex set of changes and opportunities. It involves social care coming of age and claiming its place at the heart of future society. A unique opportunity to try new things and think afresh.
We are delighted to host a private roundtable in partnership with ADASS, at which we will grapple with the big questions facing the sector: which factors will have the biggest impact on adult social care, and, what opportunities can we seize to drive towards a positive blueprint, rather than away from it?
The blueprint must be articulated nationally and locally, but it is not new; it has been clear for a while and has consensus. People and communities are able to support each other, to prevent, reduce and delay their need for formal care and to live happy, healthy and resilient lives. They are empowered by a strengths-based and asset-led adult social care system that is integrated with all other relevant services.
We know what needs to happen, but how do we get there?
There are several examples of where opportunities have been seized, and examples where unfortunate decisions have been taken.
For some local authorities, as soon as the crisis hit, social workers were withdrawn from hospital, they struggled with home care capacity, and stopped providing reablement.
Others were able to form new virtual teams that they had been attempting to establish for years, and relationships with community groups had become much stronger.
There are big changes coming for adult social care, but there is a real opportunity to shape the future of the system.
The key question is: How do we respond to events in a way that nudges us towards the blueprint for social care, not away from it?
If you would like to be part of our upcoming private roundtable to discuss these opportunities, or have a conversation with us, please do get in touch.