Back in the summer, we asked 30 social care experts to tell us how care should be done differently. No two responses were the same and the list of things needing change grew longer with each one. Quality of care good enough that we would value it ourselves. Rewarding staff enough to prevent the current haemorrhaging the workforce. Helping carers balance caring with the rest of their lives. Technology for more than just avoidance of personal care. Reworking social security to help people live independently.
The responses covered so much more than what a good social care system might cost and who should pay for it. What will the Green Paper cover?
When the Government is asked about social care, they refer to the Green Paper – now, at least, a timetabled commitment. But will the Government’s long awaited response consider and address our contributors’ ideas or just the money question?
Is our social care Christmas list so long that we are going to be disappointed when we finally unwrap the Green Paper?
Honesty on the scope of the paper will be a helpful starting point. The Green Paper probably isn’t going to tackle integration of health and social care services, for instance, yet greater integration can lead to lower costs and better outcomes. Perhaps a key role the paper can play is to identify the thorny questions that need to be tackled elsewhere (and then develop a mechanism to make sure they are tackled).
What approach can we expect the Green Paper architects to take in deciding what’s in and what’s out? Realism is the way to go. Don’t rely on stereotypes of children and grandchildren doing everything when we know more people than ever before are ageing without children. Don’t assume that the oldest generations will embrace flashy new technology when more than half of people over 75 never use the internet. And don’t reduce older people’s lives down to just washing, dressing and going to the toilet.
As we know from bitter experience on the topic of social care, a Green Paper contains no commitment to action. It should detail issues and provide a plan of action. Given social care reform will affect every adult in England – those who need care, carers and tax payers – making sure those issues are the right ones is an expectation we should all have.
We at Independent Age will be proposing our own tests for the Green Paper, heavily informed by our Doing Care Differently report. We and our report contributors wait with bated breath to see how the Green Paper measures up.