REACTION: Social care white paper fails to address immediate pressures, say care leaders


Leaders in care have expressed frustration with the government for failing to address the current workforce crisis and high levels of unmet care need in its long-overdue social care white paper.

Directors of some of the biggest care organisations in the country said that while the paper, published yesterday, offers some “glimmers of hope” it does not go far enough in reassuring the nation that everyone will get the care and support they need this winter.

They warned that if the government fails to take action to address immediate pressures then its “admiral vision will remain a distant dream”.

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Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, praised the white paper for its focus on key issues around quality, housing, technology, data and innovation, and centring its attention on people who receive care and support, unpaid carers and the workforce.

But she added: “Does it address the current crisis affecting the social care sector – particularly in relation to workforce shortage and how that is impacting on people who need or receive care and support? No.”

Rayner explained: “The reform paper says nothing about how we go from the here and now to the future. Bridging this risk filled chasm must be a priority over the next four months. People who need care right now are being left either in hospital or at home without the support they require. Staff who have worked in care for years are leaving in their droves through exhaustion, stress and the ability to be paid better in other sectors that can flex and change their wages.

“Organisations who have delivered care as a vital part of communities are closing their doors, unable to continue in the face of unsustainable pressures. If the government does not take urgent action– then this admirable vision will remain a distant dream. People in communities across all parts of the country need this, social care matters to us all.”

Lucy Campbell, chief operating officer of Right at Home UK, said: “There were some glimmers of hope in today’s announcement – including the confirmation of the personal care cap; the renewed focus on helping people to live independently, in their own homes, for longer; and the commitment to fund staff training and wellbeing support.

“That said, we are concerned that this long-overdue white paper fundamentally fails to address some of the most immediate and pressing concerns faced by social care providers, staff and clients. 

“With home care colleagues from multiple care providers up and down the country being forced to turn clients away due to a lack of available caregivers, we are disappointed that the white paper fails to tackle the ongoing recruitment crisis, despite vocal calls from providers, staff and clients across the country. People are being left without care now. Solutions cannot wait until tomorrow.”

Stephen Chandler, CEO of ADASS, welcomed the white paper as a promising “starting point”, but warned that the care and support of thousands of older and disabled people is at risk this winter because of widespread staff shortages.

He said: “The white paper paints a promising picture of a more professionalised care workforce in the future. What we urgently need now is a bridge to that brighter future, to address the immediate crisis and ensure that everyone gets the care and support they need this winter.”

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, criticised the paper for failing to address the need for fair pay in social care.

“You don’t have to be Einstein to realise addressing pay for carers is the absolute number one priority for to tackle the catastrophic understaffing crisis – a crisis which will only get worse,” she said.

“Care workers can’t survive on poverty pay or unfilled promises by a Government refusing to recognise the highly skilled workforce.

“That’s why GMB is campaigning for a £15 an hour minimum for care workers.”

But Kathryn Smith, chief executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, praised the paper for its vision for home care.

She said: “The white paper’s framework for change responds to the long-term trend towards more care at home and in the community. Particularly for older people, we know from our own survey research that the public prefer to remain living at home or in their communities if they require social care.

“We were pleased to see housing and care prominently featured in the white paper. We believe that no decision about care and support should be made without considering where people live. Research findings in SCIE’s recent report, A Place We Can Call Home, support the Government’s intentions to expand the availability of housing and care solutions.

She continued: “On top of the urgent need to stabilise the current social care system, the government must commit to a sustained investment to deliver the reforms in the white paper. Realising the paper’s ambition will also require a steadfast and a long-term Government commitment to co-production, with people who draw on care, their carers and local communities playing a central role.”

Tags : social care reform
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke