There is a growing sense of crisis in ‘adult social care’ and I think Norfolk County Councillors need to be taking an urgent look at the problems the service faces.
Care for older people and adults with long term conditions is a massive part of what the County Council does. There are four new and significant pressures on the sector that are adding to the sense of crisis: Brexit; COVID; and increases in the Statutory Minimum Wage are all big national issues. Here in Norfolk, the tragic deaths of three people in care last year led to the cabinet member for Adult Social Services saying people should not use services provided by the company that runs Cawston Park.
Our own director of Adult Social Services has recently Tweeted this.
The government has recently adjusted its position on the immigration status of care workers and there has been the very recent announcement of a small amount of new COVID funding. But the long term, systemic problems remain.
As far back as 2017 a Competition and Markets Authority report said the current market system was unlikely to be sustainable and a year ago a BBC report suggested as many as a quarter of care providers faced going bust.
It is the duty of County Councillors to make sure the care system works locally. We need to investigate the issues and make sure the solutions are being found. Things are complicated by the existence of the three separate committees that could look at the issue. I think a ‘grand committee’ should be set up involving members from the three committees.
It needs more than just presentation of officer reports, it needs constructive political recommendations for future actions to make the local market sustainable.