Article by Simon Whalley, Chairman, Birtley House Group Ltd.
In a world that has seen such an upheaval in the last year we need to look to the future and learn from the past, whilst still retaining a good perspective on the present. In a situation where our every day is dominated by the stress of just keeping going, we must find time to also plan for what we need to do when the pandemic is under control.
Article by Simon Whalley, Chairman, Birtley House Group Ltd
In a world that has seen such an upheaval in the last year we need to look to the future and learn from the past, whilst still retaining a good perspective on the present. In a situation where our every day is dominated by the stress of just keeping going, we must find time to also plan for what we need to do when the pandemic is under control. Our world will have changed so that collaboration and mutual support will be the new normal and social care can finally be recognised as needing to be integrated with health and the NHS. This is important, not just for the quality of life for those in care, but also for the recognition that investment in social care can not only save the NHS from the risk of being overwhelmed by pandemics but also save substantial costs in more normal times.
I have a lifetime of experience of care as my parents and grandparents founded, in the early 1930s, the care business (Birtley House in Surrey) of which I have been a Director for 50 years. My grandfather, from his experience as an army surgeon in World War 1, pioneered the private care of those with mental health problems as far back as the 1920s. The business has survived numerous depressions, the second World War and, with care as a whole, omission from the structure of the NHS, and has built a reputation for innovation as well as continuity and quality.
As founder members of the Surrey Care Association (and long-term members of Care England) we at Birtley House have long recognised that it is only by working together that we can exert the influence to bring about the changes that are now so desperately needed. We have been working with SCA, and in particular with David Holmes, Chairman of Peak15 and one of the SCA Directors and recent Chairman, who has been inspirational in the development of this project. Throughout the pandemic, we have tried to identify the key factors that will result in a re-invention of social care which we would like to re-name as Life Care to reflect the importance of the whole range of services provided. Learning disabilities and other issues for younger people need to be effectively addressed as well as those for older people.
On 6th November 2020 Surrey Care Association launched its initial proposals at a zoom conference chaired by Professor Martin Green OBE, Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, and Sir Robert Francis QC as the main speakers. Key elements require:
- a fresh start with a new ethos.
- recognition of a valued workforce in the sector.
- new processes developed in partnership with the skilled owners and managers of ethical providers (these processes will include independence of assessment of care needs, real choice for those needing care and consistency of contracting).
- fair and transparent funding arrangements.
- reformed roles and structures avoiding the current siloed systems and duplication so prevalent in the bureaucracy of both the health service and local authorities.
SCA’s mission is to help achieve a consensus of goodwill and renewed public interest that will encourage the Government to radically reform social care to secure better outcomes for those in need. It also seeks to recognise and fully value those working to achieve these outcomes through understanding of the importance of social care in all its dimensions and thereby delivering much better value to society and the state. Care is our future, and we must act to ensure it comes with dignity and quality of life for all.
The full report (Reinventing Social Care) can be accessed at the following web address: https://www.surreycare.org.uk/news/reinventing-social-care
Simon Whalley, Chairman, Birtley House Group Ltd and Fellow, Surrey Care Association