Social care providers from across the region are set to quiz a leading regulator on how they can raise standards whilst coping with the current financial crisis in the sector.
The Independent Care Group is currently holding its AGM (today July 24th) and will welcome Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care, with the sector’s regulatory body, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
The AGM follows hot on the heels of the CQC’s latest report on the state of social care. It revealed that 79% of adult social care services in England were ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ but 21% were “requiring improvement” or “inadequate”.
Group Chair Mike Padgham said members were keen to improve standards and eager to learn how that could be done during the current economic climate.
“All providers are keen to improve standards and get those CQC figures up towards 100% good or outstanding,” he said. “But we are having to do that during a crisis in the sector. Some £5bn has been cut from council budgets since 2010 and 1.2m people are now living without the care they need.
“Now care homes are closing and homecare providers are unable to deliver care in people’s own homes.
“We are delighted that Andrea Sutcliffe has agreed to attend the AGM and to speak to our members. She will find members who are keen to move forward and improve.
He will tell members: “An estimated 338,520 adult social care workers left their roles in 2015-16 – some 928 a day. If you can earn more money stacking supermarket shelves – without the enormous stresses and strains of caring – who can blame carers for leaving?
“It might not all be about money and yes, we all do have to work together to save social care and improve standards. But unless providers receive a fair price for the care they provide, it is hard to see how we will stem the tide of workers and indeed providers leaving the sector and achieve what everyone wants, which is a raising of standards.”
He has written to the Prime Minister and to Parliamentary Under-secretary of State Jackie Doyle-Price, inviting them to visit the front line of social care to learn about the issues and possible solutions.
Amongst other things, Mr Padgham wants to see a root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded to include the merging of NHS health care and social care into a National Care and Health Service, with its own Secretary of State, at Cabinet level. He says the sector needs greater funding – possibly through taxation and/or NI contributions and a commitment to ensure a fixed percentage of GDP is spent on social care.
He also wants to see dementia regarded as a health issue, a cap on social care costs, including ‘hotel’ charges, a national minimum rate for care fees, a minimum wage for social care workers, above the National Living Wage and incentives for providers to invest in the future, like being zero-rated for VAT so that they can claim it back, as other business sectors do.