Social Care: Provider and Local Authority Collaboration
With the current debate surrounding adult social care following a recent release from central government (which appears to diminish the importance of the sector), it’s imperative to discuss the provision of services and their wider social impact.
The media viewpoint of the sector often seems to focus on poor quality, bad leadership and the demand for improved funding.
Such coverage, in addition to ignoring the great work of care staff, taints the public perception of an industry which is one of the largest employers in the UK.
Behind the NHS, the social care infrastructure helps not only support a huge proportion of our society but also enables a committed and dedicated workforce to provide for their families.
So, the main question is, why is social care so hidden on the agenda for reform?
Local authorities exist to look after the interests of their designated communities, providing services which enrich residents lives.
Sadly, however, as with the majority of government resources in recent years, austerity measures have taken precedence, which fail to account for the potential benefits of providing excellent care resources.
Although this is also true of many other sectors and is common in the age of distributive entrepreneurialism, we must begin a programme of collaborative working to redefine the norm.
The truth is, the sector is in a state of disarray and the increase in private-only funded care organisations further justifies concerns that a two-tier system distinguishes between those that can afford to cover their care and those that can’t.
Such a design defeats the aim of providing equal access to care for all.
A Potential Solution
While the cost of an NHS hospital bed could be up to £400 per night, the price of the average care home bed, offering multi-purpose and high-needs intervention, is around £140 per night.
The evidence is clear that many hospital patients could be helped to an equal standard in a care home environment or even their own homes, with the right package of care.
Let’s think about that for a moment.
If we could actively take one person from every bed in the 168 hospitals in England and move them to another extended care environment, we would save the NHS 15 million pounds per year. And imagine the numbers if you could do that for two, three or even four people every week. All by working collaboratively rather than in silos.
That’s to say, if the NHS, local authority and social care providers could work effectively in unison, the system would actually save money.
Rather than increasing budgets, if the industry could work smarter with its current services and create a flow of care from hospital to the private sector, it will benefit everyone.
So perhaps a better question for the public to ask is why such measures aren’t being implemented already? And why are these work streams prevented from succeeding in the first place?
If we can only focus on creating a system of collaboration between the private sector and local authorities, while improving the public awareness of available funding and access to care, these questions may be answered.
The wider problem is that proposed social care solutions always involve extra funding rather than using current resources more effectively.
In finding an environment for providers and local authorities to support one other, we will surely be able to minimise costs, while guaranteeing a superior level of care for society’s most vulnerable individuals.