Vive la différence!

Posted on April 3rd, by geoff in Caring Times, CT blog. 1 Comment

By Caring Times editor GEOFF HODGSON

I confess that for much of the two decades of my involvement in the sector I have accepted the received wisdom that health care and social care integration is a goal worthy of pursuit, but I’m beginning to wonder if, rather than being a panacea of holy grail qualities, it may instead be a chimera which would turn and bite us.

The ever-burgeoning fiscal demands of healthcare are likely to perpetuate the relegation of social care to the role of poor relation, despite strong arguments that well-resourced social care could substantially reduce the burden on acute healthcare. I fear the reality is that healthcare demand will always grow to fill and exceed capacity.

And the two are chalk and cheese, with very different skills sets involved. Certainly there are common elements and interdependencies, just as there are with electronics and electrical engineering but like these, health and social care are two distinct areas of human endeavour, each with their own knowledge base, language and raison d’etre.

A report published last week by the Centre for Welfare Reform cogently challenges the integration agenda and argues for the establishment of a Department of Social Care. Academic in tenor, the report is a little starry-eyed in my opinion but the arguments are well-supported. Perhaps we should see the forthcoming Green Paper consultation as a ‘back to the drawing board’ opportunity, accepting the reality of what is, but shedding any embedded notions of what should be and giving serious consideration to other, very different approaches which are working well in other parts of the globe.

  • The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.

One response to “Vive la différence!”

  1. I think what we’re looking for here, and as the Barker Review pointed out a couple of years ago now, is better joined-up working and clear understanding on both sides (just as you would expect electrical engineers to have a working knowledge of electronics, to use your metaphor). And social care shouldn’t underplay its advocacy role in relation to the NHS and local government. But this is about confidence, and leadership confidence, in the sector – not waiting for health or central government to lead on their behalf.

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