Speak up at the back there
By guest blogger Debbie Sorkin,
National Director of Systems Leadership at the Leadership Centre
Adult social care must have done a terrible thing in a previous life. That would be one explanation for the particularly vitriolic coverage that the sector has had to live with over the past few weeks. Firstly, there was the contention that the overload in A&E admissions could be laid at the sector’s door, as if delayed discharge was purely a social care issue. Then, last week, the Daily Telegraph continued in the same vein, launching a campaign that was actually called “A day in the life of Britain’s bad care homes’.
I wonder whether part of the reason is also the continued willingness of adult social care providers to play an unsung, and unsinging, role in making integration work and taking the load off A&E: going into acute trusts to take the initiative and smooth the wheels, so that the people in their care can leave hospital as soon as they’re ready; working in partnership with Clinical Commissioning Groups to have on-site medical and pharmacy resources, funded by the CCG, so that they can catch potential problems early and prevent hospital admissions in the first place; playing a central role in new Intermediate Care models; and working in tandem with mental health services on services designed to ease bed blockages.
Admittedly, this doesn’t happen everywhere, or easily; local authorities and CCGs can be cash-strapped, and acute trusts can be hard to engage, if you can get their attention at all.
But equally, I know from care providers around the country – across the private and not-for-profit sectors; in rural and urban settings; and spanning all sizes of operation, from national organisations to those with one or two care homes – that there are excellent examples of adult social care taking a lead in developing, and implementing, integrated services. Why isn’t this more acknowledged, or even recognised? I wonder how much it’s down to the traditional culture of social care, which tends not to draw attention to itself – either because there’s a feeling that social care organisations shouldn’t take credit for simply doing their job, or because people feel scared by the prevailing coverage and are worried that if they speak up, something might go wrong? But none of these things seems to constrain the health sector.
So I’d like a call to arms, for social care providers to spread the word locally and nationally about the great work that they’re doing. Social care has to counter the lazy ‘all care homes are bad’ narrative. It’s wrong; it’s pernicious; it gives NHS Trusts an excuse for not engaging with social care; and it creates needless worry in the minds of people for whom residential care can and should be a positive choice. More noise, please.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.