SOCIAL care is chronically underfunded and must become a general election issue if care for older and vulnerable adults is to improve, a leader in the field will tell a major conference in York next week.
Mike Padgham, chair of the Independent Care Group (York and North Yorkshire), will warn delegates at its 10th anniversary conference that unless the situation changes, standards will fall, more care services within the community will close and more people will go without the care they need.
He said that the increasing demands for care form an ageing population is making it harder for care providers to meet expectations and recruit staff, at a time when care needs are becoming more complex.
“We are in the eye of a perfect storm but there is no money to properly fund the social care sector and so instead of rising to meet new demands, less care is being commissioned by local authorities, fewer people are receiving the care they need, care services are closing and standards are falling,” he said.
“Unless politicians wake up and see that this is serious and make it a manifesto issue for the election, I can only see it getting worse.”
Independent Care Group, the representative body for independent care providers in York and North Yorkshire, works with clinical commissioning groups, councils and regulators to ensure standards are maintained and training is given.
The conference, at York Racecourse, will include an opening speech by the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. Mr Padgham said the sector had been under-funded “for a generation”, things had only worsened during the recession, and that investing in care would save both hospital beds and money.
He added: “We need to see the country treat social care properly and to better balance its funding and that of other NHS healthcare.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health spokesperson said it had increased the money it gave to councils for social care by £1.1 billion this year, and that its Better Care Fund, to be introduced next year, will help focus resources to help people live independently longer to save councils money.
North Yorkshire County Council will begin a series of consultation meetings on a new care strategy which would lead to Extra Care housing in every major town in North Yorkshire this week.
By 2020, nearly a quarter of the county’s residents will be over 65 and the number predicted to have dementia will have increased by more than 20 per cent.
The Council’s new strategy, which aims to keep people in their own homes and give them choice over the care they need, includes providing accommodation as well as community care.
It hopes to provide more than 50 Extra Care housing schemes by 2020, which would replace the existing elderly person’s homes and provide specialist dementia care and supported living for younger people with learning disabilities.
Coun Clare Wood, North Yorkshire’s executive member for health and adult services, said Extra Care should play a “ pivotal role” in keeping communities “active, thriving and stronger.”
Consultation meetings take place across the county from October 7 to 29.
Visit www.northyorks.gov.uk for full details.