The government on the 4th April 2023 published the Better Care Fund framework that is claimed will ensure at least £16.8 billion is spent to make sure people receive the right care in the right place at the right time. Building on the People at the Heart of Care white paper, the government has set out plans to further digitise the social care sector and bolster the workforce.
The aim of this initiative is to cut waiting lists by reducing pressure on urgent and emergency care and freeing up beds for those who need them. The update builds on commitments outlined in the People at the Heart of Care white paper, published in December 2021.
How will the new funding be allocated?
Allocations of over £2 billion previously announced funding include:
• In partnership with Skills for Care on a new care workforce pathway and funding for hundreds of thousands of training places, including a new Care Certificate qualification - aiming to increase opportunities for career progression and development, backed by £250 million.
• launching a call for evidence in partnership with Skills for Care on a new care workforce pathway and funding for hundreds of thousands of training places, including a new Care Certificate qualification - aiming to increase opportunities for career progression and development, backed by £250 million.
• £100 million to accelerate digitisation in the sector, including investment in digital social care records, so staff have the latest information at their fingertips to best meet the needs of those receiving care.
• a new innovation and improvement unit to explore creative solutions for improving care, such as supporting local authorities to reduce care-assessment waiting times and using best practice from those areas where waiting times have already been cut by a third - backed by up to £35 million.
• a £1.4 billion Market Sustainability and Improvement Fund, which local authorities can use flexibly, including to increase the rates paid to social care providers or reduce waiting times.
• £102 million over 2 years to help make small but significant adaptations people need to remain at home, stay independent and avoid hospital - including grab rails and ramps, small repairs and safety and security checks.
• £50 million to improve social care insight, data and quality assurance - including person-level data collections and new Care Quality Commission assessments of local authorities to improve poor performance on social care and identify where further support is needed.
Alongside these reform commitments, the Better Care Fund, which brings together health, social care and housing to help older people and those with complex needs live at home for longer, will increase from £7.7 billion in 2022 to £8.1 billion in 2023 and £8.7 billion in 2024. The total fund includes £1.6 billion to improve hospital discharge arrangements - £600 million next year and £1 billion the following year.
Boosting Workforce capacity
The government remains fully dedicated to the 10-year vision for adult social care set out in the People at the Heart of Care white paper, and since then has boosted workforce capacity by issuing 55,000 visas for people to take up care-worker roles.
Health Minister Helen Whately said:
This package of reforms focuses on recognising care with the status it deserves, while also focusing on the better use of technology, the power of data and digital care records, and extra funding for councils - aiming to make a care system we can be proud of.
Chief Nurse for Adult Social Care, Deborah Sturdy, said:
Working in social care is such a varied, exciting and rewarding career, and I’m pleased that these reforms recognise the enormous potential in investing in the professional development of our highly skilled workforce.
Along with technological advancements that will make the lives of care workers easier, this plan is an exciting continuation of the government’s commitment to reform social care.
The government planned investment in Adult Social Care through the Better Care Fund framework is an acknowledgment of the importance of social care in alleviating further crisis situations in the NHS.
This investment and the reform of social care should have taken place years ago. Preventing bed bocking long before it became a central issue. Better late than never, maybe at last adult social care is to get its day in the sun.
Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute
Bettal Quality Consultancy