The pressures faced across the entire health and social care system show no sign of abating. Adult social care professionals will understand this better than most.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic’s near-total monopolisation of the talents, time and resources of health and care professionals across the country, social care was already fire-fighting and striving to deliver the best possible care while contending with a battery of competing pressures.
Right now, while acute providers are ploughing their efforts into tackling elective backlogs and mental health specialists are working to triage the needs of a growing waiting list, social care continues to struggle. The main challenge is the significant operational pressure associated with the pandemic, which is being managed in parallel with the pending social care reforms and expected assurance framework.
Whilst it may not feel like it, now is the right time to sit down with your health partners to produce fully costed plans to meet the needs of yet more incoming legislation.
If, as expected, the Health and Care Bill passes into law over the coming weeks, the resulting changes it will bring present opportunities for key, targeted improvements in outcomes for people who access adult social care services.
This is because the Bill, once passed into law, will unlock a £150m sum of ‘new’ money to be allocated to social care services across the country to “unlock the potential of caretech innovation that enables preventative care and independent living” (People at the Heart of Care: adult social care reform policy paper, updated March 2022). However, accessing this money may not be as straightforward as we would like to think. In fact, there is a risk that local social care services could miss out altogether. National Health Service England (NHSE) and the Local Government Association (LGA) both suggest that plans should be developed in partnership between health and local government and care providers, as highlighted in the LGA’s response to the Joining Up Care whitepaper.
In our discussions with NHSE, the following points have arisen:
Worryingly, some estimates suggest that social care is not active, or participating as equals to health, at an ICS level in around 80% of local systems.
Given that NHSE is likely to make this funding available for drawdown by ICSs as early as June, the time for social care to make its voice heard and influence local priorities is now!
The expectations from national leaders can regularly conflict with operational pressures on social care at the local level. To help bridge this gap, social care needs to be provided with the time and space to develop fully costed plans that align with wider ICS priorities, to access and then make the best use of the available funding.
Clearly, a one-off £150m funding boost for social care in England is not going to be enough to overcome every barrier to better care outcomes at a local level. But every journey starts somewhere, and that’s why is it critical that social care leaders are supported to create locally targeted plans and successfully advocate for them at an ICS level.
If the sector fails in this task, the funding is likely to be either syphoned off by acute providers or simply returned to the centre. Neither of those scenarios will help social care play its role in the provision of stronger integrated care within systems, places and neighbourhoods.
Channel 3 can help you:
Channel 3 have recently engaged with many directors of adult social care and health leaders to understand local ICS priorities, which include:
Our current work across many ICSs includes the development of digital strategies, shared care records, D2A digital solutions and a focus on specific cohorts, such as those living with a learning disability. These projects expose us to working across both health and care in local systems, bridging the divide that NHSE is so concerned about. We have also successfully partnered with local systems to access central funding previously.
We understand the practical barriers that social care leaders find themselves having to overcome when trying to develop innovative solutions to boost outcomes.
If used properly, this social care funding can mark another meaningful step towards a form of integrated care that encourages collaboration across health and social care. We can help unlock this funding by working in partnership with you to develop your prioritised plans.
If you would like to discuss how you can successfully access this funding, please complete your details below and a member of the Channel 3 team will get in touch. Social care cannot afford to miss out on influencing how this funding is used within the system.
Ralph Cook has over 20 years of consulting experience within the public sector, more recently specialising in designing and delivering complex transformation programmes across health and social care. In recent years Ralph has helped the sector pioneer thinking in the areas of demand management, sustainable change in complex systems, behavioural science and intermediate care.
Stuart has over 20 years of experience within frontline services and consultancy within health and social care. He specialises in delivering whole system transformational change through independence-focused demand management by embedding strength-based practice, enablers to independence such as technology-enabled care and system performance improvement.