Adult social care is a vital part of the UK community, with the term encompassing all help that is given to physically or mentally ill adults, or those with disabilities. This factors in such vast numbers of friends and family members throughout the country, and yet the current financial situation makes us question whether we actually care about those the adult care sector supports.
Councils all around the country are suffering from an extortionate lack of funding, reducing the number of social workers they can employ and therefore in turn far fewer adults are receiving much-needed help. Even adults who benefit from the physical help that councils can provide to meet basic health needs, like bathing, may not have the support in other tasks such as food shopping or being involved in the local community. These wider aspects that build up a life – beyond receiving medical or physical assistance – need to be prioritised to an equal level in terms of funding and governmental support.
Reading Borough Council recently reported a 32% drop in the number of employees working in adult social care over 6 years; exemplifying the current crisis facing social care as a whole. Northamptonshire have admitted to 2,000 cases being unassigned which can only be attributed to the financial insensitivity and lack of care being implemented when dealing with our adults in care. Councils have had their budgets cut down by 26% since 2010 which is being counterbalanced by the number of over 65s growing more than any other country.
This is an unacceptable and unsustainable situation.
While the government committed to providing the adult social care sector with £150 million throughout 2018/19, practitioners consistently explain that the industry is in need of much more help than that. Predictions for 2020 are that the social care funding gap will reach £2.5 billion; therefore action needs to be taken now to ensure that we are not putting the vulnerable members of our society in dire risk. The current influx of funds is obviously welcome but in order to create an appropriate and extensive support system, the government needs to stop restricting the councils’ budgets while actively building platforms to protect the sector from future cuts.
Whether you agree with the Conservative leader of Surrey County Council, David Hodge, that reconfiguring adult social care will “solve most NHS problems” or not; the fact of the matter is that this sector is in crisis. Everyone knows the NHS needs more funding, the child social work sector need more practitioners and we don’t do enough for mental health in this country yet; but by ignoring the importance of looking after adults in social care we are perpetuating a problem we will all come to face as we age. Whether it will be personally due to a medical problem or looking after someone close to us, every one of us will interact with adult social care workers and recognise the value of the work that they do – but we can’t wait till then to give them the funding they need and deserve.