The ADASS, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, in its Spring Survey 2022, is warning that the year ahead will be the most challenging adult social care and the people needing and working in it have ever faced.
Sarah McClinton, ADASS President, in responding to the survey said: “Adult social care has long been in a fragile state, but growing economic turbulence is rapidly deepening our problems and concerns. We are at the centre of the storm. Those who need or work in care are amongst the most exposed to the cost-of-living crisis.
“A growing number of Directors tell us that they have never been more concerned than they are about the winter to come. We need action and funding now to support recovery in social care, just as in the NHS, and build firmer foundations for the reforms we all want to see.
The perfect storm
The survey, the leading and most comprehensive assessment of adult social care, shows that the long-term impact of both austerity and the COVID-19 pandemic on support for people with care needs is now being compounded by spiralling inflation and intense labour market pressures.
Directors report increases in care needs, with 87% saying more people are seeking support because of mental health issues, 67% are seeing more people because of domestic abuse and safeguarding concerns.
Of equal concern, 73% of directors report rising numbers of cases of breakdown of unpaid carer arrangements.
Directors are also receiving more and more requests for support because of pressures elsewhere in health and care: • 82% report increased referrals of people discharged from hospital; • 74% are recording more referrals and requests for support from the community; • 51% are recording more referrals and requests because of the lack of other services in the community.
Almost 7 in 10 directors say that care providers in their area have closed, ceased trading or handed back contracts to local councils. Many more cannot deliver the increased care and support needed due to staffing shortfalls.
Existing challenges of rising requests for support, increasing complexity of care required, fragile care markets, and underpaid, undervalued and overstretched workforce, risks being compounded by the current cost of living crisis. People who need care and support, unpaid carers and those who work in adult social care are amongst the most exposed.
This picture has profound implications for people who need care and support today, those who will need support this winter and our chances of providing the type of care and support we all want in the future.
Cathie Williams, ADASS’s Chief Executive said:
Our health and social care services are in jeopardy. Without immediate and substantial help from the government, we face the most difficult winter we have ever experienced during which more people will miss out on vital care, others will wait longer for support and choice and quality will decline still further.
“Measures so far to ‘fix’ social care simply do not address the scale of current funding and workforce challenges and are crying out for a long-term, properly funded plan.”
This ADASS Survey paints a bleak picture of the challenges facing adult social care. Cathie Williams in her comments goes as far as to say that adult social care services are now in jeopardy.
There is little doubt that the provision of adult social care as we know it cannot be maintained without government intervention and new funding. Things have moved on apace since the provision of the last funding. New challenges to the care sector have arisen since the pandemic.
Fuel poverty, cost of living at its highest since the 1980s. Increasing difficulties in recruiting staff because online retailers can offer better wages and signing up bonuses. As Cathie Williams, ADASS’s Chief Executive said, “Measures so far to ‘fix’ social care simply do not address the scale of current funding and workforce challenges and are crying out for a long-term, properly funded plan.”
Unless the government decides to address the problem, we will see fewer people desperately needing care being deprived of it and increasing numbers of care providers no longer able to provide a care service.
Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy