Social Care and a Flat White

We have an election in just over a week so I thought I would resurrect my blog and talk about a couple of issues that are important to me and I have some experience of through work or volunteering.

So I am going to start with Adult Social Care

There has been a riot of articles in the press recently about the state of social care provision in the UK. The chronic underfunding, imposition of the new minimum wage causing organisations to close units as they cannot make them profitable. Also Theresa May’s apparent u turn on a social care funding cap. Interestingly in the 2015 Conservative manifesto one of their pledges was about introducing a cap on social care funding by an individual but within the first 6 weeks of the government they dropped the idea and instead said they would think about it in 5 years time. ‘Strong and Stable’ anyone?

However we as individuals have a role to play. What price do we put on the value of social care for our loved ones?

I am going to argue that the answer is not a lot and I am going to base that argument not on funding but on rates of pay within the industry. Currently the value we put on the provision of social care for our loved ones is the same value as our daily Flat White/Americano with hot milk/Cappuccino, delete as appropriate.

How did I work that out? Well the rate of pay that we have for an entry level role in social care is the same as a barista at Costa/Starbucks/Caffe Nero, again delete as appropriate. Factor in a rise in zero hours contracts in the sector and the fact that many employers do not pay for travel time therefore driving, pun intended, the hourly rate below the minimum wage.

Now let’s look at the responsibility and risk involved in the two roles.

Barista – responsibility – getting your day off to a good start with a nicely made drink and a cheery disposition. Risk – works with very hot water.

Support/Care Worker – responsibility – personal care, creation of support plans, administration of medication, management of controlled drugs, management of challenging behaviour, record keeping to the level proscribed by the CQC plus many others.

If a barista makes a mistake then you go to work feeling grumpy because your drink or experience wasn’t perfect.

If a support worker makes a mistake, individuals can be hospitalised, the support worker can be prosecuted.

So am I arguing that support workers should be paid more – well that would be nice. But my real point is that we as individuals/government/a nation need to wake up and smell the coffee, pun intended.

To get better social care provision we need to find a sustainable method of funding it’s provision. The problem is only going to get worse as our population ages and we live longer.  Here’s the kicker – contrary to popular perception money does not grow on trees.

To fund it better we individuals/government/a nation, need to pay more. That can be done in a number of ways.

Individual contributions based on mean’s testing with a possible cap – payment deferred until after death and the money taken from the estate.

Increased general taxes eg income tax – possibly ring fenced.

A precept for social care – a specific tax increase uniquely for a named service

A long term individual saving plan specifically for social care.

I am not going to argue the relative merits of each model but the basic concept is the same. We need to pay more or accept a smaller inheritance which equates to the same thing

Some figures just to emphasise the scale of the issue. Life expectancy in the UK in 1950 was 66.4 & 71.5 in 2014 this rose to 79.1 & 82.8. When the state pension was introduced in 1908 life expectancy at 65 was between 10 – 12 additional years. In 2011 additional life expectancy at 65 was an additional 18 – 20 years – not quite double. Factor in the fact that in 1908 you did not get a pension until age 70 and now you get a pension at 65 and you can see the issue. Add to the mix that since the invention of the welfare state in 1948 we have hardly changed the funding model, other than reduce the tax burden and as the Americans say – Do the math!

So no answers but just something to think about while you have your decaf, skinny, extra hot, caramel latte prior to going to vote next Thursday. A final plea, please use independent coffee shops rather than the tax avoiding big boys!

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