Building ‘sustainable’ social care workforce must be priority, says new ADASS chief

Ray James also calls for protected funding for social care

Councils, social care leaders and politicians must step up efforts to address problems with social care staff pay and training that are impacting care, according to the new Adass president.

In his address to the Adass spring seminar, Ray James said that building a ‘sustainable workforce’ will be crucial to the social care system’s ability to deliver joined up and personalised support. James warned that problems with workforce supply, notably the 32% turnover in nurses working in care homes, had to be tackled and focus given to debates surrounding low pay for care staff and professional development for social workers.

“The social care workforce deserves to be trained, valued and remunerated in a way that is consistent with the quality of service society rightly expects of them,” said James.

“Nothing…determines the quality of a citizen’s experience of social care more than the dignity and respect they are afforded by those entering their homes and lives.”

James, who is director of adult services at Enfield council, set out several other priorities for his year as president. These included campaigning for the next government to give social care a protected funding settlement aligned with NHS funding and working to strengthen the role of local health and wellbeing boards.

On the funding issue, James said that the findings from Adass’s latest annual budget survey will be published next month and, in a sign of more pain for social care departments, are likely to “reinforce” previous year’s findings. The last Adass survey found that social care departments had seen budgets fall by 26% in real terms over the past four years.

James said closer health and care integration was key to improving care but warned that it would not address all the financial challenges facing the sector.

“There’s no international evidence that says it’ll make that scale of difference. The future has to combined integration with a sustainable financial settlement for both health and social care,” he said.

“Frankly if budgets get completely pooled the history of the last few years suggests that increasing proportions of spend ending up in the acute sector. And I don’t think that’s the system we want in the future. We want care to be closer to people’s homes.”

James succeeds David Pearson, director of adult services at Nottinghamshire council, as Adass president. He paid tribute to Pearson’s leadership and commitment to ensuring social care’s voice was heard by the government on key policy issues, such as the increased pressure on social care teams related to deprivation of liberty cases, said James.

“David’s tireless efforts, along with those of many valued partners across the wider sector will hopefully ensure that sustainable, good quality social care is uppermost in the minds of the Great British public and our political leaders not just in the next few weeks but for years to come.”

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