BASW response to the ADASS Spring Report
Report adds further urgency to calls for reform of social care
BASW England reiterates its call for urgent reform to adult social care following the release of ADASS’ Spring report.
The report highlights several aspects of adult social care that are not working. The fact that almost 75,000 people have been waiting more than six months for an assessment and therefore denied their legal right to have their needs considered is unacceptable.
It is deeply concerning that a clear plan has yet to be brought forward by the government regarding social care reform, despite numerous promises over the years.
Prime Ministers have stood up in the House of Commons, or on the steps of Downing Street, to make big promises on ending the crisis in social care but have failed to bring anything forward.
After the 2019 general election the Prime Minister promised to “fix the crisis in social care”, yet 22 months on they could only manage just nine words in the Queen’s Speech.
Any further delay is unacceptable – people cannot wait. The Government must publish their plans as soon as possible so that we can get this ball rolling.
Delaying will only increase waiting times and place further strain on local authorities.
BASW England is calling for reform that improves all adult social care in terms of quality, equal access and affordability – not only focused on later life expenditure and the impact on savings and assets.
We urge the Government to take immediate action to ensure local authorities have the funding that they need to provide good, quick care and support for every person that needs it.
Graham Price, a service user and member of BASW Adults group, has a simple message for government: “I'm an octogenarian totally blind male, living alone, independently and I'm worried. Presently I'm well but for how long? Politicians, please wake up and address the issue of adequate social care provision.
“You have been promising to address this need since 1997. How much longer must I wait for the relief of my anxiety?”
The pandemic has not created the social care crisis, but it has accelerated it. Moreover, it has highlighted the stark health and social inequalities in the communities we serve.
People living in the most deprived areas of England experienced coronavirus mortality rates more than double those living in the least deprived areas.
There has been a disproportionate impact on people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) backgrounds and other marginalised groups throughout the pandemic, including the tragic loss of life of older people in care homes and people with a learning disability who have died from COVID-19 more than six times the rate of the general population.
Reforms to the social care funding system must produce greater certainty about how care and support needs will be met, both for those people who currently have needs and for those of us who may have needs in the future.
The rising levels of unmet and under-met need, the post code lottery and chronic underfunding of the social care system is having a devastating impact on the lives of individuals, families, friends, unpaid carers, communities.
BASW England is strongly advocating for social care that is properly resourced and funded to be able to deliver the high-quality support and housing that is needed in the community for people with learning disabilities and autistic people.
Too many autistic people and people with learning disabilities are in inpatient settings with a series of government targets set and missed over the last several years. Our current campaign Homes not Hospitals is raising awareness and advocating for change
The values of social work include a responsibility to promote social justice. Accordingly, BASW England believes that quality social care should be available to all regardless of socio-economic status and the same high standard of care should be provided to individuals whether or not they are eligible for public funding.
Pete Feldon, Chair of BASW’s Adults group, commented on the survey: “The fact that almost 7,000 people have been waiting more than six months for an assessment is very concerning, as is the statement in the report that there are ‘low levels of confidence amongst Directors in their ability to meet what they are required to do by law’.
“Social workers experience the ‘growing disconnect’ between increasing need and the funding available to meet it, described in the ADASS report, through seeing their professional judgement about the resources necessary to meet need being compromised.
“It is timely that BASW Code of Ethics for Social Work has been revised and relaunched, as a reminder of the ethical expectation to challenge unjust policies and practices.
“To complement this BASW England is currently developing guidance on how the Code of Ethics can help social workers address concerns about the application of the Care Act 2014.”
Discharge to Assess
The ADASS report makes references to the Discharge to Assess policy and model introduced wholescale during the pandemic. The proposal through the Health and Care Bill is for this to continue.
BASW England consulted with members about this towards the end of 2020 and a number of concerns were raised regarding dilution of the social work role and contribution with the assessment process no longer being undertaken in the hospital.
Social workers reported concerns about choice and involvement in decision making for individuals and families, risk-averse practice leading to an increase in the number of people being discharged into care homes with restrictions imposed on seeing family and friends and issues with being able to review these arrangements within the 6 week timescale.
There has yet to be a formal review of the current Discharge to Assess policy. BASW England is calling for the evidence upon which the continuation of the Discharge to Assess model is being based to be published.
There is now an even greater urgency for this in light of the findings in the ADASS survey that to support this process an additional 27% uplift in social work time/capacity was required.
As the ADASS report highlights, the impact of austerity, continual cuts to social care funding and the additional challenge of the covid-19 pandemic have resulted in unimaginable pressures on the social care system.
We support ADASS in their call for a long-term plan for social care to be published and for the spending review to address sustainable funding that is desperately needed by the sector.
Furthermore, BASW England restates its previous calls made in our 'Ten reforms we would like to see in social care’.