More than funding needed to change social care

Readers will be well advised to read a very interesting and provocative article in The Spectator on the need for reform in the social care system, concluding the system needs much more than just fresh cash.

The article, by James Mumford, who led a review of social care for the Centre for Social Justice, argues that funding is not the only answer for social care. Especially since, as implied in the last general election campaign, many seem unwilling to countenance a change in funding in order to fund those in need.

As Mumford points out, though, as we have consistently said on this blog, that lack of funding is not the only issue with our care system: “It is not a funding issue when a resident isn’t given a glass of water. It is not a funding issue when people in charge fail to deliver. And it is also not a funding issue that we, so often, look the other way or quite simply stay away.”

Mumford points out that when people are moved into a care environment, they are typically cut off from their possessions and their social connections, and are seldom given the opportunities to develop new ones. As a result, their mental well-being deteriorates along with their physical health. Mumford references a recent social experiment broadcast on television where children entered a care home and caused an increase in the physical health of residents, evoking a similar scheme in the US.

Mumford also echoes Advantage’s calls for us to think bigger and in a more imaginative way, citing the proposal from a New York doctor for smaller but more homely facilities for the elderly. Above all, he stresses the need to end the “marginalisation” of the elderly. There are no shortage of ideas to help with this. One idea mentioned in our Future of Care report called for housing schemes to be designed around the young and the elderly.

Increasingly, the mood seems to be that funding is not the only answer for care. Instead, we need radical and progressive thinking that recognises the need for a change of culture and mindset.

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