Who’s seeing the wood from the trees in social care?

We’re at a potential turning point for social care in England. Potential, I say, because despite all the efforts of Andrew Dilnot, the long grass is still a distinct option for his proposals to make social care fairer. At the moment, the support you get depends on where you live and how much money you have, leaving many families in the position of losing almost everything they have to pay for the care they need.

The hoo-ha around the curiously named Health and Social Care Bill (curious because it isn’t about social care at all) has distracted us all from the wicked issue of how on earth we make sure older and disabled people’s care can be paid for. We all have a stake in this. As a person with no kids, I need to know that if I develop dementia like two of my grandparents, someone somewhere will be there to enable me to have some dignity and quality of life.

The thing that interests me is that the reason the Health Bill is now in such trouble is that after many months of polite muttering, the health professions have started to throw their prescription pads out of the pram .

The question is, who will throw their toys out of the pram for social care? Who has the influence to make sure we get a better deal for the service users and carers of today and tomorrow? As a sector we are disparate and comparatively low status. We have none of the trappings of power of the medical profession or the hospitals that people will march in the streets to defend. We have no easy solutions that don’t involve more funding for services,  and it’s easy to put us in the too hard basket.

I’ve been lucky enough to take part in a programme organised by the National Skills Academy for Social Care. It’s bringing together  people who work across social care  – local authority commissioners and managers as well as charities, to give us the skills to shape the sector for the future. Although in our day jobs, we are often on different sides of the fence, here we’ve found that what connects us is much greater.  We all work here because we believe in fairness, human dignity, and a society which enables people to live decent lives. It’s easy to get distracted in the next task- next task -next task rush of our lives and jobs. But social care deserves and needs so more than that.

Standing together with users and carers, we individually and collectively need to make change happen in the best way we can – it is all our responsibility . We can sit back passively wringing our hands, but then nothing will happen and we will be as much to blame as the Government. We need to  work together, push ourselves to have the tricky conversations which might tip the balance for change, understand where to use our energy to make most difference,  and do things differently from the  stereotypical patterns we have fallen into.  I, for my part, can make sure I use my skills to put carers’ issues at the heart of the agenda. I can do that  more by listening and  developing real connected partnerships so that we can stand strong together when the going gets tough, than by posturing or point scoring.

We’re meeting today in Hertfordshire and outside our meeting room  the spring snowdrops offer  a promise  of hope for the year ahead. Here, in the short time we can spend together in the calm and quiet of the forest ,  I hope we  are all starting to see the wood from the trees.

For more information on The National Skills Academy for Social Care visit

For information on the Care and Support Alliance’ s End the Care Crisis Mass Lobby on 6 March


February 29, 2012 - Posted by | Health, Social Care, Uncategorized | , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: