Adult care – a look to the future?

As the Political Party Conference season has drawn to a close we have examined the proposals of the main political parties in respect of social care.   As we look ahead to a seemingly inevitable General Election, the conference agendas will be provide the best opportunity for a sneak peek at likely manifesto pledges.

Liberal Democrats

As the only main political party which is committed to remaining in the EU, the Liberal Democrats consider that the main threat to a deterioration in care services is Brexit.  It is believed that in order to  guarantee continued access to medicines and treatments and create the economic conditions to restore cuts to key services, the UK should remain in the EU.

At their conference, proposals were put forward to increase income tax by 1p on the pound to create £6 billion which would be used to meet immediate priorities, reverse cuts and invest in mental health.

The Liberal Democrats also propose to establish a cross-party commission in respect of NHS and social care funding and introduce a dedicated social care tax to fund it.

Labour Party

Labour has committed to introducing a free personal care for people over the age of 65 and create a National Care Service.  The overall cost is estimated at £8 billion and an eligibility criteria will apparently be set in due course.  It is not clear who would be ineligible as Labour’s vision is seemingly to provide the same level of support to everyone regardless of location and make social care free at the point of need.

Labour also pledge to address the funding crisis and support Local Councils by building capacity to enable councils to deliver care in-house as opposed to out-sourcing services and to improve the access to training by care staff.

Conservative Party

 Social care seemed to be high on the agenda of Boris Johnson following his election as leader of the Conservative Party, as he pledged on the steps of Downing Street on 1st August that his government would fix the social care crisis once and for all.

Whilst the Conservatives have pledged further funding for the NHS, Mr Johnson did not mention plans for social care in his conference speech.  The Minister for Health and Social Care Caroline Dinenage MP could not attend the conference due to commitments in Westminster and was unwilling to provide any substantial comment.

We are therefore none the wiser as to how the present government plan to tackle the crisis, or meet the gap in funding.  We would expect greater scrutiny of the Conservatives and their plans for social care in the run up to any General Election.

Impact on the  care system

All parties agree that the issue of Social Care needs to be addressed, with the Liberal Democrats and Labour pledging significant funding and the Conservatives expected to detail their own plans.

We are in a period of great uncertainty and it is difficult to know how the departure from the EU and a possible General Election will directly affect the care system going forward.

For the moment, there is no foreseeable change in the way the care system will be funded.  Care homes will likely continue to operate under funding pressures .According to the Liberal Democrats and the leaked documents from Operation Yellowhammer this situation will worsen if Britain leaves the EU. There is reference to stockpiling of medicines and increasing cost generally .How this manifests into claims is really a wait and see?


murphy_katie_web Written by Katie Murphy, solicitor at BLM

Care providers urged to ensure they are ready for Brexit

The Government and other bodies such as the Care Providers Alliance are urging health and social care providers to ensure they have done everything they can to prepare for a potential No Deal Brexit on 31 October.

The National Audit Office published a report at the end of September noting that whilst the Department of Health and Social Care had undertaken a lot of work since June 2016 to prepare the sector for leaving the EU, there was still a lot of work to be done before 31 October in respect of the social care sector. For example the report notes that whilst the NHS has taken steps to stockpile medication for immediate use across the healthcare sector,  care homes often rely upon non NHS suppliers for supplies of items such as rubber gloves. The Department did not originally advise the social care sector to stockpile such items, but rather advised that care providers should be simply “ready to deal with any disruption”.

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Inquests – Social Care – Investigations by The Coroner’s Office

Working in social care with the elderly is likely to mean that there will be occasions when you will be  required to assist the coroner. Deaths will inevitably occur whilst providing care in residential and nursing homes and in domiciliary care in circumstances where the Coroner may need to investigate.

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NHS pays firms £181m to care for patients with serious mental illnesses

Due to a severe shortage of NHS mental health beds in England, the NHS has been left with no option but to pay private institutions such as the Priory increased sums to provide residential rehabilitation each year.

“The NHS is paying private firms an “eye-watering” £181m a year to look after people with serious mental health problems in units often hundreds of miles from their homes.” – The Guardian.

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Celebrating work in the care sector as minister reports on delayed Green Paper

A very enjoyable evening yesterday at the National Care Association Summer Reception hosted by Howdens Insurance brokers. We hear a lot of negativity around care services, so it was lovely to spend an evening celebrating all the incredible work that is performed in the care sector.

We heard an interesting address by Caroline Dineage, Minister of State for Health, including a mention of the long-delayed Green Paper on social care – which isn’t going to be published any time soon. The Green Paper is intended to explore the issue of how social care is funded by recipients and consider a range of proposals including a more generous means test, a cap on lifetime care charges and tac-free withdrawals from pension pots. When it is finally published, it will simply set out a range of recommendations for further consultation so any reforms to the current system will be even further down the line.  During her address, the Minister also repeated her previous words of caution that, when published, the Green Paper will not solve all the challenges of social care.

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Have things changed since Winterbourne View?

What the BBC and the CQC tell us about abuse of vulnerable patients

An undercover investigation by BBC Panorama (‘Undercover Hospital Abuse Scandal’ – 22 May 2019) revealed abuse of vulnerable patients at Whorlton Hall, an independent hospital for adults with learning disabilities and complex needs/autism.  Whorlton Hall was was previously part of the Castlebeck Group (which also ran Winterbourne View) and the Danshell Group.  In 2017 it received aGood’ rating from its regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), despite previous complaints.

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Australian elderly care under scrutiny

A Royal Commission is currently underway in Australia to examine “Aged Care Quality and Safety”.  The Commission began in October 2018, and aims to complete a final report by April 2020.  It has wide reaching aims to examine the quality and safety for the elderly living in residential care as well as living at home.  This will include examining whether care is substandard, whether there are any systemic failures and how best to deliver care using technology, investment in the sector/workforce and innovative models of care.

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