Care and support is something that affects us all. We all know someone, a family member or friend, who needs additional care or support to lead a full and active life. It might be because they are getting older, have developed an illness or disability, or have lived with a disability from birth. In fact, most of us will require care and support services at some point in our lives.
Why do we need to change the care and support system?
Like most developed countries, improving the current social system is one of the biggest challenges we face today. The care and support in this country needs to change because:
- Society is changing, and we need to ensure the system is sustainable for the long term
- People want greater choice and control over their care and support
- People’s expectations are rising
- Care is expensive, and people often face very high care costs without being able to protect themselves
What has the Government done already?
We have already taken major steps forward towards an improved social care and support system and shown our commitment to change. Last November the Government published its Vision for Adult Social Care which set out the principles for a modern system of care and support. We have also set out our priorities for helping carers in the next steps for the Carers Strategy.
In recent months, two independent Commissions have sent reports to Government on two different aspects of care and support. In May, the Law Commission published recommendations for simplifying social care law, and in July the Commission on Funding of Care and Support published recommendations for reforming the way that people pay for care and support. We also received a report from the Palliative Care Funding Review, which sets out how we could ensure integrated, responsive, high quality health and care services for those at the end of life.
We have identified six areas where we believe there is the biggest potential to make improvements to the care and support system. Between now and December, we will be having discussions on these areas with a range of people and organisations involved with care and support. The reports from the two Commissions, and that on palliative care, contain some important and valuable proposals and we will build on them during our engagement, setting them in the wider context of social care reform. However, we also want to have a wider discussion about every aspect of the system to help us decide what to do.
Making changes to the care and support system is not simple and they cannot be made all at once. We will need to spend more on care and support as our society ages and, in this challenging economic environment, we need to weigh up what the priorities for reform are and produce a realistic plan for change.
So, over the next three months, we will be speaking with a range of people and organisations involved with care and support. We want to discuss what people’s priorities are, and this will feed directly into a White Paper that will be published in April 2012, alongside a progress report on funding reform. The White Paper will set out our approach to reform to start the process of transforming our care and support system.