12 Mar The crisis facing social care
The long-awaited social care green paper to ‘ensure that the care and support system is sustainable in the long term’ cannot come soon enough.
Recent surveys show that as many as 29% of councils are looking to make further cuts to social care due to financial pressures. And it isn’t just the 29% that are feeling the strain. In the 2018-2019 financial year, around half of local authorities went over budget on social care and 37% of councils named social care as their number one financial pressure.
It is little wonder 10% of councils are at risk of insolvency over the next three years if changes do not occur in social care funding. The need for change and reform was pushed 20 years ago during the royal commission and that need is still to be properly addressed today.
Each year, the number of people able to access the care they need is falling.
Over a seven year period, there was a record drop of 400,000 elderly citizens able to access publicly-funded care. Past increases in funding in the form of a £2bn increase, as well as tax precepts look good on paper, but must be seen in the context of a £7bn reduction in spending over the last 8 or 9 years. The decision in July 2015 to postpone the introduction of a cap on lifetime social care charges and a more generous means-test proposed by the Dilnot Commission does nothing to allay concerns around how funding shortfalls will be corrected.
A weak social care system will have a knock on effect on the NHS, which makes it all the more unfortunate that the green paper was not released alongside the NHS 10 year plan. Without integrated reform, the social care industry will continue to place pressure on the NHS as our most vulnerable people are forced to seek care elsewhere.
In the absence of increased funding in the near future, social care providers must find new ways to cut costs without compromising care.
As we stand, social care faces a funding gap in excess of £1bn by 2020 and we are already seeing care providers closing down in around a third of councils around the UK. Meeting the needs of those reliant on the system is already inadequate. Without new approaches and reform, the situation will only deteriorate further.
The lack of clear leadership from the austerity-committed government means local councils and individual providers must be resourceful and find their own solutions. There are several options that could help achieve this, including adopting the asset-based approach to social care, which makes use of public volunteers to engage with the elderly. This engagement enriches the lives of those living in the social care system, as one of the core purposes of the approach is to help them work and remain active in the community.
Another approach that can reduce costs is technology. SoupedUp Catering Care software has been transforming one of the most labour intensive and costly parts of running a social care business – resident dietary management and food service delivery. In Australia, more than 20% of care home providers have successfully digitised menu management and streamlined their food service operations, while reducing food wastage and improving the nutrition and wellbeing of residents.
SoupedUp’s technology solution is cloud-based, simple to use and implement and menus and recipes are dietetically approved and IDDSI-compliant. In short, SoupedUp is a proven cost-cutting solution that UK home providers can benefit from today.