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Social care faces ‘perfect storm’ of cash shortages and provider failures

Adult social care directors are facing a “perfect storm” of funding shortages and provider failures, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said as it published a new survey.

Of the 129 out of 152 directors who responded to the survey, 62% had experienced residential and nursing home closures in the past six months, and 57% had care providers hand back contracts.

This had affected an estimated 10,820 people who use council-funded care. Furthermore, almost 80% of directors said they had concerns about the quality of a care provider in their area.

Ray James, the immediate past president of ADASS, said:  “This survey paints a picture of adult social care verging ever nearer to a point of crisis.

“The funding gaps are a huge concern for the sector because the impact this is having on the lives of thousands of older and disabled people, their families and carers, is both significant and extremely worrying.”

He added that adult social care is entering a “perfect storm” which is impacting on vulnerable people who are getting less help and whose need for care won’t stop.

“Urgent and significant government investment is needed now to address funding for the sector, or thousands of people who rely, or hope to rely, on receiving care, will suffer as a result,” James argued.

In its annual report, the CQC warned recently that social care providers could be at risk of failure because of the financial pressures they face.

The ADASS survey also revealed that 68% of directors had had discussions about reductions to NHS-funded continuing healthcare; nearly two-thirds reported increased demand for healthcare activity to be undertaken by social care staff; and over half identified increasing numbers of people with very high needs not being admitted to hospital.

Separately, the LGA also called for increased funding for social care after a new report from the Health Select Committee warned that shortages in the social care sector will contribute to pressures on the NHS this winter.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “Councils, care providers, charities, the NHS and the public are all united around the need for central government to fully fund adult social care.

“The government must use the Autumn Statement to provide councils with the funding to ensure we have a fair care system which keeps people out of hospital and living independent, dignified lives at home and in the community. This will then alleviate the pressure on the NHS.”

Councils have long argued that pumping money into the NHS while making cuts to adult social care is a false economy, with Cllr Seccombe adding: “Unless social care is properly funded, the NHS is in real danger of collapse.”

Health and care walking towards ‘difficult winter’

The LGA’s 2016 ‘State of Social Care’ report, published yesterday, said that the government’s current promises of increased social care funding are based on “ambitious assumptions” and, even if they are delivered, will still leave the sector with a £2.6bn shortfall.

The new Health Select Committee report also stated that leaders of acute trusts were expecting a “substantially more difficult” winter in 2016-17 than last year, in part because of financial pressures on the NHS, but also due to the severity of underfunding in social care.

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, chair of the committee, said hospitals were coping with “unprecedented levels of demand” without the traditional respite in summer.

The report said the government needed to provide additional social care funding, as one of the key causes of pressures on hospitals was a lack of social care provision – with some trusts establishing domiciliary care services to ensure they could get patients out of hospital.

It also called for the government to carry out an urgent review of the state of social care and its impact upon the NHS and vulnerable service users.

Earlier this week, members of the committee wrote to Philip Hammond, the chancellor, to say that any extra funding for the NHS in the Autumn Statement should be directed towards social care.

But Philip Dunne, the health minister, argued the NHS was “better prepared for winter than ever before” and a “crucial part” of this was the government’s guarantee of a funding increase by up to £3.5bn.

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Richard Collins   03/11/2016 at 17:12

Why don't those who make the decisions about the funding of residential care spend a week as a volunteer working at an under-funded residential or nursing home?

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