It was good to see ADASS’s reflection on 10yrs of the Care Act and the view that it is still fit for purpose. Less good to note the lack of confidence in LAs ability to meet the statutory duties of the Care Act, let alone its principles – most worryingly of all in the inability of LAs to invest in prevention. 

We also noticed the Minister’s speech to the ADASS spring conference.  While it was good to hear the minister’s commitment to choice and control, people living independent lives, the potential for technology to assist in this, and the value of human relationships and compassion at the heart of social care there seems to us to be an enormous gap in what she didn’t say.  Here are some things we wish she had acknowledged:

Social care is facing a crisis significantly larger than it’s ever experienced before. It doesn’t need a ten-year plan, it needs concerted action from government and everyone else involved to work together to confront this reality. This is not a ‘doom narrative’ – its just ‘getting real’.

More than a decade of austerity has created huge pressure, damaged morale, and contributed to workforce shortages as many people have left or are thinking of leaving the profession. 

Waiting lists have become a core part of managers workload. Screening them, re-prioritising them, worrying about them, justifying them, hiding them. 

Workers’ lives are dominated by blizzards of forms and processes – while being urged to work harder and faster.  You can’t offer people kindness and compassion if the people working in the system are not experiencing this.

This pressure pushes people further into the world of triage and screening, signposting and diverting people away. This dehumanises people – as we call them ‘cases’, label them and send them into our bureaucratic systems.  Throughput, (‘getting people off our list’) and ‘closing cases’ are seen as success.  They are not – they are a characteristic of a system that is in crisis-mode.

Blaming ‘demand’ is not the answer.  We have found that often at least half the calls to social care are from people already waiting in the system, asking what’s happening. We are contributing to ‘the demand problem’ by offering people a place in the queue for ‘an assessment for services’ – when what they really want is to be properly listened to rather than ‘assessed’, which enables so many other alternatives to formal care to become apparent. 

However, our work in Partners of Change, and the data that accompanies it, gives us plenty of reasons to be hopeful that we can still work with humanity, kindness, take our time to listen properly and in doing so be more productive – but only if our starting point is the acknowledgement of how things really are – and our collective desire to really want to do things differently. 

What do you think?  We would love to hear your views.  Does any of this ring true to you?