The United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) has urged the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, to address the pressing issues facing the social care sector.
In an open letter, UKHCA chief executive Dr Jane Townson calls on the Tory leader to invest in the sector and find a solution for its recruitment and retention problems.
“A well thought out programme of investment in social care
will represent considerable savings to our health services, and also provide
better paid and more secure jobs for care workers,” she said.
“Although low unemployment is good for the economy overall, the social care sector is losing candidates to competing business sectors including retail and hospitality.”
Dr Townson explained that investment will be urgently needed should recruitment challenges become exacerbated by the UK leaving the EU.
“UKHCA argues that while careworkers are low paid, they are highly skilled,” she said. “If post-Brexit migration policy settles on high salary thresholds for skilled workers; the £30,000 threshold and required academic qualifications are unrealistic for most homecare employers and will leave social care increasingly unable to meet the demands from our aging population.”
The chief executive also explained that the current lack of investment in social care means an estimated 1.4 million older and disabled people are not receiving the care they need, and that councils recognise the danger that they will soon be able to meet their statutory duties.
UKHCA has called for independent oversight of commissioning of adult social care by councils and the NHS, just as Ofsted oversees children’s services.
“That oversight is necessary if we are to be confident councils will commission sufficient high quality homecare in future. In England that means ensuring councils comply with their market shaping duties as set out in the Care Act 2014. We believe that such a function should be carried out by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).”
UKHCA has also urged the government to consider implementing
a tax system that encourages people who want to fund their own care to plan
“We hope this will be considered in the social care Green Paper that your government publishes in the near future,” said Dr Townson.
“Solving the social care problem will not be easy. UKHCA can bring the voice of homecare employers to the table to discuss these and other matters with your office” she concluded.