Social care challenge appears to be getting worse – By Silva Homes

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The social care crisis was arguably the greatest challenge facing the UK before Covid-19 gripped the nation – and by general consent it appears to be getting worse.

By Dasos Christou, Silva Homes executive director (customer relations)​

 

It has been estimated that one in 20 care home residents in the UK have lost their lives to the virus, and the clamour for a solution is growing louder.

 

Despite the heroism and incredible professionalism of care home staff, the acute issues facing the social care sector, which have been building for decades, now seem to be reaching breaking point.

 

By 2040, the number of people over 65 who need help with care has risen to 5.9 million – compared to 3.5 million in 2015.

 

Successive governments have pledged to reform social care so that, for example, people are not forced to sell their homes to fund places in care homes.

 

But plans to change the system are proving to be prohibitively expensive, with reform costing many billions of pounds.

 

We hope that the Government will consider investing in independent living schemes, managed by housing associations like Silva Homes, as part of the solution.

 

In simple terms, independent living (previously known as sheltered housing) is designed for people over the age of 55, who want to be as independent as possible, but need assistance with some aspects of daily living.

 

Ageing is, of course, a gradual process, and most people don’t need to go straight from living in a two-bedroom house (with garden) to a care home.

 

There’s a mid-way period, where you can still organise your time and manage your own affairs, but maybe you want to live somewhere a bit less stressful, near like-minded neighbours, and with the option to take part in communal activities, or get some extra support or property adaptations, if you need it.

 

Independent living schemes can make a world of difference to wellbeing. All our homes are unfurnished, allowing residents to personalise them and stay independent for much longer.

 

In fact, many people in independent living homes never go into care at all.

 

Winnie, for instance, moved into Broadway House, one of our independent living homes, aged 96 because her previous home and garden were too large to manage. Even now, aged 100, she loves living independently and doesn’t need any extra care.

 

In the middle of lockdown, we held a birthday party for Winnie, which I believe epitomises the spirit of independent living and the personalised customer service that it enables.

 

Our independent living team at Broadway House pulled out all the stops to make sure Winnie could celebrate her birthday in style, despite all the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

We staged a surprise celebration, with social distancing measures in place. Winnie’s family gathered in the communal garden, alongside her neighbours and my Silva Homes colleagues, and treated her to a socially distanced rendition of happy birthday.

 

We even made a colourful banner which read: ‘Happy 100th birthday lovely Winnie! From all of us at Broadway House.’

 

As Winnie waved to loved ones and danced in her flat window, we knew this would be a highlight of what was an extremely tough summer for everyone, especially those in the care sector.

 

For me, it also summed up everything that is good about our independent living homes, especially places like Broadway House.

 

Broadway House has colleagues on duty and provides a freshly cooked meal every day. We are very attentive and carry out regular care assessments, as well as organising activities.

 

But we try to enable and encourage independence as much as possible.

 

We know that independent living schemes are an increasingly important part our social care sector, but housing associations like Silva Homes need the government to maximise their potential, with realistic levels of investment.

 

  • Silva Homes is a not-for-profit charitable housing association, which owns and manages the homes of 14,000 customers across the South East. For information about independent living schemes visit: https://www.silvahomes.co.uk/independent-living

1 COMMENT

  1. Indeed Social Care is in crisis and has been for many years, this is down to a number of factors

    lack of Government investment
    abysmal staff salaries
    lack of care workers
    unsocial hours
    poor working conditions
    no staff sick pay scheme
    and many others

    I put lack of Government investment at the top because if this was solved then some of the others could also be.

    As to investment in social care, this has never been sufficient, but 10 years of austerity cuts and now COVID-19 have made the crisis very more serious.

    So, lets look at social care, before 1970 social care was administered by a ‘mishmash’ of organisations

    local authorities
    charities
    voluntary sector
    health
    and many others

    But in 1970 the Government of the day decided to bring all social care to be administered by local authorities, but true to form, the Government did not provide anywhere near the funding that was required and over the years the gap from what funding is provided to what is actually required has been increasing.

    Many Governments in the last few years have promised to solve the funding process and a considerable amount of the work required as already been done.

    In fact, in the David Cameron Governments they were prepared to go ahead in 2015, https://www.ft.com/content/b9c248d4-d679-11e7-8c9a-d9c0a5c8d5c9, but decided to defer until April 2020.

    Now in April 2020 we were in the COVID-19 pandemic and still are, so was this the reason for no action, who knows.

    But, urgent action needs to be taken, not just for care homes, but the whole of Social care which includes home care, respite, supported living, hospices for both children and adults as well as care homes.

    Well some action has occurred for in July 2020, an advisor was appointed on the proposal for the NHS to take over social care, https://www.nationalhealthexecutive.com/Health-Care-News/camilla-cavendish-nhs-social-care.

    So, action has been taken, but how is it proceeding, who knows?

    Governments are ‘ace’ at putting proposals forward and creating working groups, but they are not good at putting proposals into action and thereby solve the crisis and they could well be lost in the ‘black hole’ of Government.

    To ensure actions are finalised, I created the petition, Solve the crisis in Social Care, https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/solve-the-crisis-in-social-care.

    Please consider looking at the petition and, if you agree, please sign and share.

    Should you require more information this can be found at

    https://1drv.ms/w/s!Aq2MsYduiazgoD1SDhH0HdiEpOfB?e=1aI2dN

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