A national strategy for social care could save the NHS £1 billion every year

national strategy for social care, covid-19
© Stevanovicigor

Research found that the supported housing and integrated mental health system could save the NHS £950 million if used as a national strategy for social care

The report looks at systems already in place in parts of London and the South East, which are yet to applied across the UK.

In February, the UK Government expressed intentions for “social care reform” that will come “later this year”. This is the most discussion there is of a national social care strategy in the recent Health white paper.

What are some of the NHS reform proposals?

  • Scrapping some tendering processes that waste NHS time
  • Putting Healthcare Safety Investigations Branch permanently into law as a statutory body
  • Giving the Secretary of State power to directly make payments to adult social care providers when needed
  • Calorie labelling on food and drink packaging, plus no junk food adverts before 9pm

The COVID-19 public health crisis truly highlighted the poignant need for social care reforms. Care homes were hit hard by COVID infections, and individuals across the country became informal live-at-home carers for their loved ones. This often came at the price of being able to work, or they neglected caring duties for a time period to be able to pay bills every month.

Describing the situation for dementia patients, Fiona Carragher, Director of Research and Influencing at Alzheimer’s Society explained: “At least 70% of care home residents have some form of dementia, so when coronavirus spread like wildfire through care homes in March and April 2020, people with dementia were disproportionately hit.

“Social care was not placed on an equal footing with the NHS and not prioritised for COVID-19 testing and personal protective equipment.”

Chris Hampson, Chief Executive of Look Ahead Care and Support said: “The government’s recent white paper is a step closer to more integrated services. But whilst the pandemic has shone a vital light on the importance of social care workers, we must ensure that wider reform focuses on all aspects of social care, and not just care homes and care for older people.”

So, how could the NHS save near to £1 billion a year?

Europe Economics found that the current model employed by Look Ahead Care was saving £5 million, across 167 individuals.

These housing models are currently in use across: East London Foundation Trust; Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust and Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust.

What do these models include?

  • The integration of Crisis and Recovery Houses (short-term community-based alternative to in-patient psychiatric treatment);
  • Rehabilitation services (accommodation-based services providing medium or short-term support to develop mental health stability and daily living skills);
  • And Forensic step-down for people to step-down safely from secure in-patient settings into the community.

Look Ahead believes that 2020 was a turning point in terms of general recognition of the value of social care and the way in which social care professionals work alongside health professionals.

The care company want to expand their 167 person network into a national strategy, that would work in liaison with local authorities and NHS hubs. Social care remains one of the most potent and crucial tenets to COVID-19 recovery, across the nation.

Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson for Mental Health Baroness Claire Tyler, commented: “Most people think of the elderly when it comes to care – as indeed has been the case in my own family – but many other younger people and their families are affected too including those with learning difficulties, mental health problems and the homeless.

“We urgently need a national strategy for social care and long-term funding which works for everyone.”

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