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‘We have a Department for Health and Social Care. But it feels like it’s actually just the Department for Health’

Our Health and Care Director, Miriam Levin, reflects on the latest Ideas for Change sessions

The most recent meetings were crunch time, bringing together all the ideas that the Social Care Change Group wanted to see happen.

There were some high-level principles raised around how the government, the CQC, local authorities and care providers can play their part to make change real.

But there were also things that, though not the top of the list, were still important details to think about.

Like the difference between proper induction or shadowing as a means of training. Or volunteering via a younger generation to get them into caring.

And there was good debate around certain issues. Like whether to keep or extend 15-minute visits.

For a lot of people’s care and wellbeing needs, carers just need longer. But then someone who drew on care said they’d rather not have longer as they have a life to live. So the question was perhaps more about flexibility and being user driven.

There was a big conversation about pay. Some wondered if there should be national pay scales set for social care. And, if so, what that could be pegged against. Minimum wage, perhaps? Or real living wage? Is it just about parity of pay with the NHS or parity of esteem, too?

Someone else made the point that while we have a Department for Health and Social Care, it feels like it’s actually just the Department for Health. That it’s never about social care. It’s always the poor relation that never gets a look in.

Work culture came up too, particularly with so much pressure on care workers. How could they be supported to have a good work-life balance?

One of the ideas was for care workers to have their additional costs, like petrol and car maintenance, covered. One person questioned why carers were even having to fight to get this: shouldn’t it just be standard?

By the end, the Social Care Change Group had worked through the ideas they wanted to make happen, who needed to be involved in that change and why that change was so important.

Next we’ll be pushing those ideas back out to people via our partners. We’ll be asking those who draw on care or work in care if there’s anything missing in these ideas. What difference they could make. And how they could be made evening better.

All that feedback will then be presented to the Social Care Change Group when they reconvene in September. At which point the group will refine and finalise the ideas, building out a robust case for why this stuff needs to happen. Ready for the ideas to be taken to this year’s political party conferences.