Important things that happened in Social Care in 2018. And one important thing that didn’t.
It has been a busy year here at Insequa. We have been writing and winning more social care tenders than ever before, we’ve broadened out our CQC Inspection Support service to cover the whole of England, our online compliance dashboard grows more extensive by the day and we’ve introduced a new CQC registration service to help support new care providers through the complex process of setting up. So, we haven’t been standing still at all – and neither has the social care sector.
The important thing that didn’t happen
There have been many false dawns, we were told the Green Paper for Adult Social Care would be published in “Summer” …But then Autumn rolled along and still no sign of it. We were told it would materialise “late Autumn”…
Guess what? Nothing. And now we’re close to the Christmas break and there’s no chance of it appearing this year. The Government clearly have their focus on other things right now, but that gives no comfort to the vast numbers of service users, carers and social care providers awaiting positive change and something concrete and real to work with, instead of excuses.
The government job thing that happened
One big news story this year was the change in personnel in the top government job at Health and Social Care. Revolving doors in the cabinet office meant that Jeremy Hunt was suddenly elevated to Foreign Secretary (not a lot of tears shed in the NHS and social care when he left, tbh).
And who filled the vacuum in July? Matt Hancock. He’s only been in the job for 6 months and has a penchant for pushing the tech agenda at every opportunity. Health and Social Care is very much a humans first sector and his focus is robot carers, GP apps and other tech wizardry to cure the nation’s ills, so it’s an unlikely match. Here at Insequa we welcome the use of tech for good in social care, we really do. But don’t forget 88-year-old Frank who lives alone and can easily switch on the TV, but finds smartphones and online dashboards bewildering. So far, we’ve seen lots of pictures of Mr Hancock with sleeves rolled up on the front-line shadowing in A & E, not so much in social care settings helping with the less adrenaline-fuelled but equally crucial job of looking after vulnerable young and old folk. Given the state of the government, if he’s still in the post in three months’ time it will be a miracle. And if he is, let’s hope in that time he can get used to using his full title of Minister for Health and Social Care – because in many of his media interviews he forgets to mention the social care bit.
The alternative to the thing that should have happened
In response to the glacial progress of the Government’s Green Paper on Social Care, the Local Government Organisation could take the silence no longer. They had a pop at doing their own alternative Green Paper entitled The Lives We Want to Lead. It encouraged consultation with the broadest range of stakeholders to get the richest possible data in return. Consultation opened on 31stJuly and closed on 26thof September. Given the delays, stalling and excuses dealt out from central government – you can hardly blame them for having a go. They published their findings well before Matt Hancock and co. got their act together. How we fund the growing social care budget in the country is the toxic political question no government member wants to field. The suggestions in the LGA Green Paper for how we fund it included:
- 1p rise in income tax
- Increase in National Insurance
- Social Care Premium
- Means testing universal benefits
- Council tax rises
The exhibition that definitely happened
In June 2018 we visited Health Plus Care exhibition in London. We had the pleasure of welcoming Andrea Sutcliffe CBE, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission to our display stand. Insequa Director, Bill Watson, was able to have a chat about our services and also to show her examples of our ground-breaking social care policies. What a nice lady! We will be attending the next Health Plus Care exhibition which takes place at The Excel Centre in Docklands on 26thand 27thJune 2019.
More personnel changes that happened
Later in the summer more news would come out of the CQC. A key personnel change took place with Ian Trenholm replacing the outgoing Sir David Behan as Chief Executive at the CQC. His appointment was followed by some media reports of ex-Military Police being drafted in to beef up the case review process. No reports yet of dawn raids on care providers. In October the annual CQC State of Care report warned of growing ‘care injustice’, with access to good care increasingly dependent on how well local systems worked together. In October, Andrea Sutcliffe CBE announced her intention to leave her role at the CQC for a new post at the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Ms Sutcliffe, who spent five years as the CQC’s first ever chief inspector of adult social care, will take up her new job as chief executive and registrar of the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in January. The announcement of her departure was met with widespread disappointment in the care sector as she had been viewed as a person of strong leadership and integrity who managed to get people talking.
Problems that continued to happen
Another big story in 2018 were the staff shortages in social care. We speak to care providers on a regular basis who really want to bid for tenders but cannot find the staff to meet capacity. We were lucky enough to have Neil Eastwood, the care recruitment guru, give us the benefit of his wisdom in August in a blog post on our website. Matt Hancock must have been reading, because it wasn’t long after that Neil announced he had become an adviser to the Govt on the big recruitment push in care.
A positive new thing that happened
On the 4thof September the first ever Professional Care Workers Day was launched by the National Association of Care and Support Workers. A morning of speakers and delivery of new carers well-being research was followed by a celebratory picnic in Regents Park for care workers. NACAS campaigns for greater recognition and respect for care workers, alongside improved standards of care delivery, training, fair contractual terms and official registration. Their important work is key to the wider re-framing of the Care Workers’ role and its evolution into a recognised and fairly recompensed and valued profession.
The frustration with the lack of progress on any social care dialogue from the government created the perfect environment for the Social Care Future movement to develop. Made up of a loose group of highly engaged social care insiders spanning a wide spectrum, this event held in Manchester on 14thand 15thNovember coincided with the NCASC National Children and Adult Social Care Conference also in the city at the time – so let’s hope that cross pollination of ideas and inspiration took place. It will be interesting watching how this energised movement working outside of the normal channels, manage to push change forward.
It’s official – Social Care Podcasts have become a thing. It’s the ideal way to keep up with what’s going on in a fast-moving sector. Sometimes you’re so absorbed in what you’re doing, it’s hard to keep track of new developments and insights into best practice – this is where targeted podcasts are so valuable. Accessible in the car, at home on the train – wherever you happen to be. The leading UK care podcast hosted by Sophie Coulthard is called the Road to Outstanding and this year it has really been the go-to hub for social care gold. Another podcast worth checking out is The Grey Revolution Podcast delivered by Samantha Bowen of The Acorn Network in Australia. With a focus on the aged care sector, this podcast has a refreshing and energised approach that we can certainly take pointers from. Feel like a different perspective? Take a listen.
It’s a measure of how far the profile of care has risen in the national consciousness that it merits a Jimmy McGovern drama dedicated to it. Care, a 90 minute drama on BBC1 starring Sheridan Smith and Alison Steadman, was (ridiculously) aired up against the final of I’m A Celebrity on ITV, it couldn’t have had a tougher debut. That said, it garnered plenty of interest, triggered Google search spikes on “continuing healthcare” and sparked plenty of dialogue on social media. If you want to view it on catch-up over the Christmas break, it’s on BBC i-Player for another 20 days.
Finally, Insequa have broken in to the world of musical film making with an Insequa Christmas Carol bonanza that needs to be seen to be believed. Yes, really – if you’re tempted, witness it here– make sure the sound is UP! and you’ve got your Christmas dancing shoes on.
Merry Christmas from all the team at Insequa!