Editorial Comment: Acclaim marks sea change

Social workers have been given a massive vote of confidence this week through our survey of 1,000 members of the public, sponsored by the GSCC.

Nine out of 10 believe the work that social workers do in the local community is very or fairly important. And the public showed great empathy with supporting some of the most excluded and vulnerable groups, such as the disabled, substance misusers and mental health patients.

Social care is clearly becoming a significant issue for the public. If this translates into an issue on the doorsteps of the electorate, the sector’s standing could improve dramatically.

In the same week, social care minister Ivan Lewis announced a package of measures to kick start the reform agenda and develop a “21st century social care system”.

These measures – which include a new leadership and commissioning skills academy, a better system for disseminating best practice and a national co-ordinating board for social care – are also aimed at raising the status of social care and its workforce.

He wants more people to be using personalised, high quality care, and needs social care staff to be more confident and better equipped to modernise and deliver their services. The moves are based on a report by Dame Denise Platt, chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, which says the sector is too timid in its vision of how adult social services can be delivered.

It’s positive that the minister is taking pragmatic, longer term steps towards fostering better leadership, best practice and evidence within the adults care sector.

Unfortunately, it needs to be matched with a longer-term approach to that other issue within social care that is stymieing ambition and progress – funding.

As demographics change, and eligibility criteria tighten, means-tested funding looks ever more opaque and inaccessible. One year on from the Wanless review and its “partnership model”, we’re no closer to a clear funding picture. It’s prompted 15 organisations to form a coalition and launch seminars across the UK addressing the question of how our future care needs will be funded and the respective contributions of state and individuals.

It could prove to be a defining period for the status of social care if we now engage in a strong and influential debate on funding. The minister is receptive, seeking “a new consensus for a new settlement”. So, tell us your views and we’ll put them centre stage.

E-mail Clare Jerrom with 250 words on how you think long-term care should be funded and you could win an iPod.

Related articles
Caring Choices raises profile of long-term care funding
Social workers win public backing in GSCC and BASW poll

Contact the author
 Mike Broad

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.