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Govtoday are delighted to announce ‘Care for all’, the 2nd National Social Care Conference and Exhibition set to examine how the reforms to the healthcare provision across the nation have affected the services delivered.
“Some people need extra care or support - practical or emotional - to lead an active life and do the everyday things that many of us take for granted. The government is working to provide a social care system that provides care for those who need it, and which enables people to retain their independence and dignity.” Department of Health
July 2012, saw the publication of the ‘Caring for our future: reforming care and support’ White Paper. The White Paper outlined the vision for a reformed care and support system one that would:
- focus on people’s wellbeing and support them to stay independent for as long as possible
- introduce greater national consistency in access to care and support
- provide better information to help people make choices about their care
- give people more control over their care
- improve support for carers
- improve the quality of care and support
- improve integration of different services
On the 10th May 2013 the ‘Care Bill’ was published, introducing legislation to provide protection and support to the people who need it most and to take forward elements of the government’s initial response to the Francis Inquiry, and will give people peace of mind that they will be treated with compassion when in hospital, care homes or their own home.
The Bill pulls together threads from over a dozen different Acts into a single, modern framework for care and support, fundamentally reforming how the law works, prioritising people’s wellbeing, needs and goals so that individuals will no longer feel like they are battling against the system to get the care and support they need and for the first time, it puts carers on a par with those for whom they care. The Bill covers a range of issues:
Reform of care and support
The Bill brings together existing care and support legislation into a new, modern set of laws and builds the system around people’s wellbeing, needs and goals. It sets out new rights for carers, emphasises the need to prevent and reduce care and support needs, and introduces a national eligibility threshold for care and support. It introduces a cap on the costs that people will have to pay for care and sets out a universal deferred payment scheme so that people will not have to sell their home in their lifetime to pay for residential care.
The report into high mortality at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust led by Robert Francis QC, identified failures across the health and care system that must never reoccur. The Care Bill contributes to the Government’s response to Francis – a commitment to ensure patients are the first and foremost consideration of everyone who works health and social care. Crucially, accompanying this laudable aim is a reconfiguration of regulation and transparency to more vigorously hold service providers to account. Perhaps the most prominent measure is the much- debated ‘duty of candour’.
Coinciding with the passage of the Care Bill has been the creation of a Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care. The first appointee, Andrea Sutcliffe, was quick to make her mark in the new post launching A Fresh Start for the Regulation and Inspection of Adult Social Care – her priorities for the inspection regime – after only a few months. The document, which will be subject to full consultation shortly ahead of our event, includes the following proposals:
- From April 2015 and subject to the Care Bill becoming law, CQC will monitor the finances of an estimated 50 to 60 care providers that would be difficult to replace if they were to go out of business.
- CQC will take a tougher stance when registering care services by ensuring that those who apply to run them have the right values, motives, ability and experience. Also, CQC is committed to taking tougher action against services that do not have registered managers in place.
- CQC will discuss the risks and potential benefits of mystery shoppers and hidden cameras to monitor care, and whether they could contribute to promoting a culture of safety and quality, while respecting people’s privacy and dignity.
The Bill establishes Health Education England (HEE) and the Health Research Authority (HRA) as statutory non-departmental public bodies, giving them the impartiality and stability they need to carry out their roles in improving education and training for healthcare professionals, and protecting the interests of people in health and social care research.
Integration of Care
Another core tenet of the Care bill relates to a new duty on public organisations to cooperate in the planning and delivery of service users’ care packages. At a time of constrained funding in both the NHS and local government, this may be easier to legislate on than actually implement. Hence the creation last year of the Integration Transformation Fund (a.k.a. the Better Care Fund). The £3.8 billion funding pot will be “a single pooled budget for health and social care services to work more closely together in local areas, based on a plan agreed between the NHS and local authorities”.
In a joint statement at the time the new fund was announced, NHS England and the Local Government Association welcomed it: “The money is an opportunity to improve the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. We must give them control, placing them at the centre of their own care and support, make their dignity paramount and, in doing so, provide them with a better service and better quality of life. Unless we seize this opportunity to do something radically different, then services will get worse, costs to taxpayers will rise, and those who suffer the most will be people who could otherwise lead more independent lives.”
Utilisation of the £3.8 billion resource by the local healthcare trusts and councils has not, however, ran smooth. In an article in the Guardian in December, Foundation Trust Network Chief Executive Chris Hopson identified a fourfold risk in the fund: there is no new money; there is double counting; such broad change is likely to incur ‘double running’; and finally, while it is clear that integrated care models produce better outcomes for patients, the evidence that they are cheaper and more efficient remains unproven. Moreover, also in December the HSJ reported that officials in the DCLG and DH are at loggerheads over the allocation of the funds.
‘Care for All’ will explore the Care Bill presenting a unique forum for debate, bringing together those at the forefront of this agenda and those responsible for delivering high quality care to listen to the real concerns and issues. Simultaneously, the conference will provide a platform for the dissemination of learning and best practice, and a showcase of productivity and innovation.
The College of Social Work