Longer read: The adult social care crisis
PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 August 2017 | UPDATED: 17:32 23 August 2017
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How much do you think about your future? I don’t mean in a Mystic Meg way meeting a tall dark stranger in the supermarket or even making monthly pension contributions, but about the care you will need as you get older.
Probably not as much as you should as the adult social care sector is in a state of crisis and unlike the NHS it is not free at the point of delivery for everyone to use.
An aging population coupled with a funding gap and difficulties in recruiting staff has created a complex problem about how the capital and the country support those with care needs.
Local authorities have the overall responsibility for ensuring the demand for adult care is met and as well as running their own services they commission private companies.
Cllr Ray Puddifoot, London Councils’ executive member for adult social care, predicted that London boroughs will face a huge funding gap from central government.
“Boroughs already spend significant amounts of their overall budgets on social care and still face increasing pressure due to the growing number of people living in the capital with care needs,” he said.
“In the absence of further investment it is estimated that boroughs could be facing a shortfall in funding that could reach over £300m by 2020.”
This funding gap is further exacerbated by an aging population, who are living longer with more complex health problems.
In a 2017 report by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on the state of social care it was predicted that the number of people aged 85 and over is set to double in the next two decades.
More than a third of this group will have difficulty undertaking daily tasks without assistance.
Jon Abrams works for a mental health and disability charity and he meets with thousands of people across London who use acare services.
“I strongly believe that we all have a duty to the public to be open, honest and transparent about public services and finances,” he said.
“Successive Labour and Tory governments have kicked the can down the
road when it comes to a sustainable funding system for social care and patching up existing services is not sustainable.
“We urgently need political parties to come together and create a solution that will work for everyone as access to adequate social care is a lifeline for many people.”
Another major problem in the sector is the difficulty in recruiting and retraining staff.
According to Skill for Care the average turnover rate for care workers is 27 per cent and not only does the high change in staff disrupt continuity for clients it creates a huge issue with recruitment costs.
A common misconception is that the sector is low paid, yet only 2pc of workers who left their job cited this as a reason.
What is becoming a growing concern is the 18pc of care workers in London are already aged over 55 and expected to reach state pension age within the next five to eight years.
This will impact the number of skilled workers remaining in the capital due to retirement or reduced working hours.
The CQC also identified Brexit as potentially impacting negatively upon this figure with research showing that 84,000 workers in the UK are non-British.
There are lots of complexities to the social care problem but what is generally accepted is that something needs to change and soon.
What is so exciting is that it opens up opportunities for a whole new generation of carers to make a meaningful difference to someone’s life.
“There are lots of different roles in social care depending on what you want to do, who you want to work with and where you’d like to work,” said a Skills for Care spokesman.
“You could be supporting someone with a physical disability, autism, dementia or a mental health condition or you could be working in a care home, out in your local community, in a hospital or from someone’s home.
“With a huge demand for workers, plenty of opportunities for progression and a job in which 96pc of workers said they feel their work makes a difference, adult social care has lots to offer.
“It’s a very rewarding career and you can make a real difference to someone’s life.”
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