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Care and Support (Stakeholder Engagement)

Volume 532: debated on Thursday 15 September 2011

Today, the Government launched “Caring for our future: shared ambitions for care and support” an engagement with people who use care and support services, carers, local councils, care providers, and the voluntary sector about the priorities for improving care and support. The engagement will last until early December, and we are requesting written comments by 2 December to help inform discussions.

In recent months, two independent commissions have reported to Government on two different aspects of care and support. In May, the Law Commission published recommendations for modernising and simplifying the social care legal framework (available at uk/lawcommission/docs/lc326_adult_social_care.pdf), and in July the Commission on Funding of Care and Support published recommendations for reforming the way that people pay for care and support (available at: These recommendations will form the basis for our discussions.

We have also received a report from the “Palliative Care Funding Review”, which sets out how we could create a fair and transparent funding system which ensures integrated, responsive, high-quality health and care services for those at the end of life. This report has been placed in the Library.

All these reports contain important and valuable proposals to help us decide our approach to changing the care and support system. However, the Government have a broad agenda for reform of care and support. These reports were never intended to look at all our priorities. For the White Paper on social care reform and the progress report on funding reform, which we will publish next spring, we have an opportunity to get reform right so we want to have a wider discussion about every aspect of the system to inform Government decisions.

We have already said, in our “Vision for Adult Social Care”, that we want to see a care and support system where care is personalised, people have choice in how their needs and ambitions are met, and carers are supported. We want high-quality care to be delivered by a diverse range of providers and a skilled work force that can provide care and support with compassion and imagination. People must be confident that they are protected against poor standards and abuse.

Making changes to the care and support system is not simple. The challenges of an ageing society are being faced by most developed countries. There are no easy answers, and we can not make all the changes at once. We know that, as a country, we will need to spend more on care and support as our society ages. In this challenging economic environment, we need to weigh up what the priorities for reform are and produce a realistic road map for change.

So, over the next three months, we will be engaging with a range of people and organisations involved with care and support about their priorities for reform.

“Caring for our future” will consist of six themes:

Quality: what are the priorities for improving quality and developing the future work force?

Personalisation: what are the priorities for promoting increased personalisation and choice?

Shaping local care services: what are the priorities for creating a more diverse and responsive care market?

Prevention: what are the priorities for supporting greater prevention and early intervention?

Integration (in partnership with the NHS Future Forum): how can we take advantage of the health and social care modernisation programme to ensure services are better integrated around people’s needs?

The role of financial services: what role could the financial services sector play in supporting care users, carers and their families?

Making changes to the funding system for care and support, as discussed in the Commission on Funding of Care and Support’s report, would impact on all aspects of the care and support system. So we also want to consider the implications of the Commission’s recommendations as part of these discussions.

We have asked a key leader from the care and support community to help the Government to lead the discussions for each of these six areas. We want to work collaboratively, drawing upon the networks of expertise and experience that have developed over many years. So, together, we will be attending events, holding meetings, listening to the views of user organisations, carers’ representatives, care providers, and local councils on what the priorities for improving care and support should be.

The leaders for each of the discussion strands are:

Quality: Imelda Redmond (Chief Executive, Carers UK);

Personalisation: Jeremy Hughes (Chief Executive, Alzheimer’s Society);

Shaping local care services: Peter Hay (President, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services);

Prevention: Alex Fox (Chief Executive, NAAPS);

Integration (in partnership with the NHS Future Forum): Geoff Alltimes (Chief Executive, Hammersmith and Fulham Council) and Dr Robert Varnam (Practising GP, Manchester); and

The role of financial services: Nick Kirwan (Assistant Director of Health and Protection, Association of British Insurers).

As part of “Caring for our future”, we also want to hear people’s views on the recommendations made by the Commission on Funding of Care and Support and how we should assess these proposals, including in relation to other potential priorities for improvement. The Commission’s recommendations present a range of options, including on the level of a cap and the contribution that people make to living costs in residential care, which could help us to manage the system and its costs. We want to hear people’s views on these different options, and the trade-offs involved. Later in the autumn, as part of the engagement process, we will ask the six discussion leaders to bring together the views they have gathered on support for the Commission’s proposals, and the wider priorities for change.

As we said in our response to the Commission on Funding of Care and Support, we face difficult economic times. Given this, the Government will have to weigh up different funding priorities and calls on their constrained resources carefully before deciding how to act.

A copy of the public discussion document has been placed in the Library. Copies are available to hon. members from the Vote Office and to noble Lords from the Printed Paper Office. This contains more details on how people can feed their views into the discussion.

The Government have said that they will engage with the official Opposition, as part of this process.

“Caring for our future” will run until early December. At the end of the engagement, the discussion leaders will bring together views about the priorities for change and will discuss these with the Government. We have committed to publishing a White Paper in spring 2012, alongside a progress report on funding reform, and to legislating at the earliest opportunity. The White Paper and progress report will include a response to the Law Commission and Commission on Funding of Care and Support and will set out our approach to reform, to start the process of transforming our care and support system.