FUNDING for social care has since the birth of the NHS been a hotch potch system relying on public and private sector.
Unlike the NHS, social care is not free at the point of delivery and as the dynamic of the population changes and politicians work towards caring for vulnerable adults in the community increasingly the burden is being borne by the individual or their loved ones.
This is clearly discriminatory and unfair leaving as it does some of those with the most acute needs at risk of falling through the cracks between service providers. It has led to the appalling situation of young children with mental health problems being sent to hospitals miles from home while those with severe mental health diagnoses are locked away in institutions which are of no benefit to them or society.
ubu was established 30 years ago to provide the best possible care for vulnerable adults by supporting them to achieve greater independence at the heart of their local communities. We work with the people we serve to help THEM identify the goals and way of life THEY aspire to, rather than dictating how they should live their lives.
We have helped the people we serve achieve some startling improvements in their lives and enabled even the most complex individuals to live more independent life in the community on minimal care. The impact on them and society has been amazing as they have reduced their reliance on the public purse, so society has seen a valuable premium.
Of course all this comes at a cost and as well as investigating and developing innovative care models that can help the people we serve, a lot of time is taken up juggling budgets and negotiating with care commissioners.
The Barker Report commissioned by The Kings Fund think tank has finally shone clarity on the future of funding social care, be it for vulnerable adults, the mentally ill or the elderly. Acknowledging a rapidly aging population and the fact that ‘at risk’ adults are being moved from long term hospital care into the community, it has called for a radical rethink.
The Barker Report calls for more joined up thinking with a merger of the two care provisions rather than the disjointed system we currently have where some care for vulnerable adults is the responsibility of local authorities, while other care maybe on the NHS if they are diagnosed with mental health problems.
Like ubu’s uStep model of support, the Barker Report demands a change of mind-set because it will require upfront investment to deliver long term health care savings which benefit everyone and society.
It has also made some brave recommendations which will make unpalatable reading for some, notably those who lack foresight and vision.
The Report suggests that gradual implementation could be affordably achieved by raising taxes on those most likely to call on the funding and reducing benefits for those who don’t need them.
Key suggestions include an increase of one per cent on National Insurance for those aged 40 and over and those earning more than £42K while cutting things like free TV licences for some elderly.
These ideas are not set in stone but finally challenge current thinking about how we view, treat and fund social care for vulnerable adults. Inevitably we will all have to make a contribution, but like insurance you can never be guaranteed you won’t need to call on the system for support.
Policy makers and politicians are being reticent about their thoughts on it. Classic head in the sand action.
The Barker Report is an opportunity for those with vision to grasp the nettle and end once and for all the uncertainty about future funding for social care. It could be the best chance we all have since the establishment of the NHS in 1948 – let’s not miss out this time!
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