Social care reform must be centred on a “home first” principle and a shift away from long-stay care homes, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has said.
In a new report that sets out nine recommendations for social care reform, ADASS said that for “too long” care has been built around organisations and buildings such as hospitals, day care centres and care homes.
The future, the organisation said, must be about what works for individuals and their families, with local organisations working together to organise care and support that enables people to work, stay independent at home and be engaged with their communities.
ADASS president James Bullion said: “Social care can transform our lives. We must move away from models of care that eke out every penny, short care visits, care homes that are too big to be homes, outdated forms of care that keep people alive but don’t give them a life.”
The new report recommends a “complete review” of how care markets operate, given the financial instability of many businesses in the sector; and a stronger emphasis of housing with care to enable people to live at home for longer.
“Reform must be underpinned by the ‘Home First’ principle,” the report said. “This is likely to mean a much stronger emphasis on some existing types of care and support which are housing based, such as ‘supported living’ and ‘extra care housing’, as well as new and innovative forms of care.
“In turn, this may mean a shift away from existing types of residential care, for example, a lesser reliance on long stay, larger scale care homes although they may continue to play a key role in reablement and short-term care.”
ADASS said the pandemic has already changed the way people experience care and support, with demand for care home places having reduced dramatically.
“It is not too dramatic to say that care may never be the same again,” it said.
ADASS also repeated its call for a two-year funding settlement from the government that ensures short-term sustainability of the sector and continuity of care; locally integrated care, built around the individual; a workforce strategy that offers fair national care wages, training and career progression; and greater access to technological and digital solutions.
And it urged the government to have a conversation with the public about how a social care system can be designed to support people with care and support needs to live a good life, and address existing historical inequalities that impact people with learning disabilities, older people and BAME communities.
Bullion continued: “Covid-19 has exposed the brilliance of everyone involved in social care – the social work and social care workforce, their courage, commitment and compassion. Rather than simply reinforcing and protecting what we have, we have an opportunity to do something fundamentally different. We must seize this opportunity to work with working age disabled people, older people, carers and those working in social care to shape a better future and to not just reimagine, but to shape the care that we all want for ourselves and our families for years to come.”