Britain should make home care a “central plank” in its post-pandemic infrastructure plan, just as President Biden has for the US, the Shadow Minister for Social Care has said.
Last month, Joe Biden put forward a proposal to spend $400 billion over eight years on home and community-based services — a major part of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan.
Speaking during last week’s ADASS Spring Seminar, Liz Kendall said the Labour Party backs this level of ambition and is calling for a 10-year investment plan for social care, based on a guiding principle of “home first”.
“We are always going to need residential and nursing homes, but the vast majority of people want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, but too many people struggle to get even the basic support or home adaptations that make this possible,” she said.
“Delivering on the home-first principle relies on a fundamental shift in the focus of support towards prevention and early intervention. One and a half million older people need help with the very basics of getting up, washed, dressed and fed, but don’t get any support at all. That’s not right for them, or tax payers if they end up needing more expensive care as a result.”
In her keynote speech, Kendall added that in a “century of ageing” Labour understands that social care is “as much a part of our infrastructure as the roads and railways” and deserves proper investment.
“If you neglect your country’s physical infrastructure, you get roads full of potholes and buckling bridges, which prevents your economy from functioning properly. The same is true if you fail to invest in your social infrastructure,” she explained.
“President Biden gets all this, which is why he has made home care a central plank of his post-pandemic infrastructure plan. And I think Britain deserves this level of ambition too.
“As the brilliant group Social Care Future has argued, we all want to live in the place we call home, with the people we love, in communities that look out for one another, doing the things that matter to us.”
The Labour Party has also called for a “new deal” for care workers to back the aspirations of staff, tackle high vacancy rates and deliver at least the 500,000 extra staff the sector needs to meet growing demand.
“As a starting point, Labour has called on the government to guarantee all care workers are paid at least a Real Living Wage of £10 an hour when they bring forward their plan for social care reform,” said Kendall.
Alongside a properly trained and paid care workforce, Labour has called for more support for unpaid carers to prevent them from putting their own health and livelihoods at risk, as well as joined-up health and social care services.
“One of the biggest complaints you hear is people having to battle their way round all the different services, telling their story time and time again. That’s not good for them and it’s wasteful and inefficient too. We need one care system built around the needs of users and families, with proper links to areas like housing and education too,” Kendall added.