Ben Shelley: 4 minute read

Discussing the future of social care at NCAS 2019

The annual National Children and Adults Social Care Conference (NCASc) is a key event in the calendar. It is an opportunity for OLM to meet like-minded colleagues in the run-up to Christmas to discuss the key social care issues of the day. Set in the picturesque backdrop that is Bournemouth, this year’s conference has been well attended despite the upcoming election.

Social Care Matters

The election is weighing heavily on everyone’s mind and not just because it means cancelled presentations.

You cannot get away from that and we could see this as we arrived, with key colleagues and ministerial addresses being absent from the agenda. The pressure is on as for the first time in many years, the election is tough to call, with Brexit bogging down politics to the trenches for the last few years. People want a change and with this in mind there is no guarantee that any of the established elite will keep their seats in parliament.

Throughout all of this, social care has been brought to the limelight. Coverage across mainstream news outlets has shed some light on an issue that affects thousands but regularly gets overshadowed by the NHS. It is a consideration that will knock on all of our doors at one point in our lives and enough is enough, we need change.

It is with this in mind that it was great to still see so many colleagues at this year’s conference. Echoing the statements from Caroline Dinage at this year’s ADASS Spring Conference, that your destinies (local authorities) are in your hands and the time to act is now. We believe in this thinking but believe that overall direction is still required by the government.

Avoiding the themes that matter the most

Earlier this week, a debate was streamed live on ITV, in which the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson took on the Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Overall both leaders played it safe and didn’t deliver many surprises. 

The Prime Minister came the closest when he said that there will be a policy on social care in the Conservative manifesto. The Conservatives have said “Yes there will”, going on to say, “…And we think that nobody should pay for the cost of their social care by selling their home…And everybody should have dignity and security in their old age".

This is encouraging but it will not be enough to convince the estimated 1.5 million people who regularly go without care and their families. It is a big chunk of the voting public and to not have a plan in place for social care when you have a ten-year plan for the NHS is confusing. Most opinions point to the fact that if you commit funds and resources to social care then it will have a beneficial knock-on effect to the NHS.

But what is in the Party manifestos

In its manifesto, Labour pledged to "end the social care crisis". The party said it would ensure no one will pay more than £100,000 for care costs in old age. Labour’s plans are big but not yet fully costed. The question is will the most left-wing manifesto in a generation solve the problems of society or hurt the economy so much that less money is available for social care in the future?  

The truth is the Conservatives have disappointed again with their statement on social care, effectively announcing a plan for a plan. There will be cross-party talks and agreement on a way forward for social care. The only definite element being selling your home to pay for care is off the table. Cross-party talks are a good idea, but how many years have we been waiting for this Green Paper?

Exploring the themes that matter the most

Whilst the political debate can be seen as a headline-grabbing affair that doesn’t really get to the heart of the issues, events such as NCAS offer this opportunity. Any change in the world emerges through debate and bringing issues that are close to our heart to life. The debate can arguably be seen as skirting social care, offering only cutaway lines to hold on to, when events such as NCAS can be used to create practical solutions.

Technology is a huge part of the NHS ten year plan and rightfully so but in the absence of a Green Paper, many issues such as those caused by Delayed Transfers of Care (DToC) are only being partly solved. What we mean by this is that with DToC, the problems primarily occur with elderly patients being well enough to leave but having no ongoing care available.

By utilising technology such as our ECLIPSE Bed Management you can bridge the gap and help reduce the human and financial costs associated with DToC. Currently estimated at £1 billion a year, we need to work together to combat the issues. On our stand at this year’s NCAS event (E20), we are offering free demonstrations of the solution. See how technology can bridge the gap between health and social care and create a more stable system.

Councillors from across the country have set time aside to listen to those in the audience, bring their concerns to life. A central session on the second day of the conference offered all those in attendance the chance to tell them what the priorities for the new government should be. A great idea for a session and one in which to bring the learnings gathered from colleagues and exhibitors such as ourselves to those in the decision making hot seat.

We are proud to be in attendance at this year’s conference and for all the conferences that have preceded it. It is a great opportunity to talk about the issues of today before they become the nightmares of our children.

To conclude

The National Children and Adult’s Social Care Conference is a key event in our schedule. We arrive each year with the eager enthusiasm of children looking forward to Christmas Day and Father Christmas arriving. We are like children in a sweet store and cannot get enough of the discussions take place on-site each year. We are here for social workers and those within the healthcare realm as they are on the frontline.

We firmly believe that technology is the way forward in terms of creating essential operational efficiencies. These are required to free up workers’ time so that they can spend more time doing what they joined the profession for and this is care. Caring for those who are vulnerable and need a helping hand.

We will all cross paths with social care during our lifetimes and it is slowly becoming an election-winning issue with millions without the care they need. The time to act is now and how we start this process is through discussion and the seeds of those discussions are beginning in Bournemouth.

Come along to stand E20 and join the conversation.