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Person-centred social care?

Sarah Gregory

Sarah Gregory, Senior Policy Advisor at Macmillan, represents National Voices on the Health for Care coalition, which is calling on the government for a sustainable social care system. In this blog, Sarah talks through the coalition's aims and recommendations.

  • Person-centred care

National Voices is one of 15 health organisations represented by Health for Care; a new coalition led by the NHS Confederation calling on the government for a sustainable social care system.

This is the first time that health-led organisations have come together in this way to campaign for reform to social care. Health for Care has three main recommendations:

  • eligibility to social care must be widened so that people whose needs are not currently met have access to care and support
  • a new funding settlement should provide secure, long term funding for social care with the Spending Review providing an opportunity to increase funding for social care at the same scale as the Government is now investing in the NHS
  • any significant additional funds must be accompanied by reform and improved services to support the NHS and local social services to integrate and transform local services

These recommendations are in line with those in the NHS Long Term Plan which was clear that its success depends on the adequate funding of social care and which supports blending of health and social care budgets where it makes sense. More detail is hoped for in the Social Care Green Paper, which we hope will get published soon. However, with even the Care Minister now lowering her expectations, we need a bigger discussion if social care is to be made truly person-centred.

The current model of time and task, where care is squeezed into twenty minute blocks, serves neither the person in need of care nor the carer. We know from work by the Richmond Group that navigation of appointments and services can feel like a full-time job to people with multiple long term conditions and that the loss of the routine of their former lives can hit people hard.

Macmillan has adopted a definition of person-centred social care, which describes it as the ability for people

“ continue with activities that give their life meaning; to contribute to their family or community; to feel safe and to maintain independence, choice, control, personal appearance and dignity; to be free from discrimination; and to feel they are not a ‘burden’ to their own families”

There are many organisations working at delivering social care in new ways. The Social Care Institute for Excellence has a directory of innovative work, but delivering these models at scale can be challenging. The CQC review of place-based services for older people found that the voluntary and community sector is not seen as a partner, nor is it involved in the planning and delivery of services as much as it could be. There is a need to articulate the power of person-centred care around people of all ages that enables them to live as good a life as possible.

The Health for Care campaign is looking for strong case studies that demonstrate the impact of people not being able to access the care and support they need. They also, importantly, would like case studies that highlight excellent social care provision that can be used to tell a story of what could be achieved with a more sustainable social care system.

Macmillan Cancer Support is representing National Voices on the Health for Care steering group.