In common with most council leaders across the country, I was left utterly dismayed by the lack of Government action in its Autumn Statement to provide the proper support our social care system is in desperate need of.
Helping people who are ‘just about managing’ seems to be flavour of the month.
Whilst it remains highly questionable if that is being achieved, what is certain is the most vulnerable people in our communities – ‘the can’t manage and aren’t managing’ – are being completely ignored, I feel.
Nottinghamshire County Council will spend around £219 million on adult social care services for elderly and disabled people this year, which is about 40 per cent of its entire budget.
This is £13 million more than last year but, because of the sheer demand, it’s still £9 million short of what we needed for the service to just stand still.
And demand will continue to rise as the number of people in Nottinghamshire aged 65 and over is projected to increase by 23 per cent by 2025.
With cuts to Government funding for council services to continue unabated, the combined pressure of less money and more demand will inevitably continue to take its toll on all public services, including the NHS.
Frustratingly, a properly funded social care system could actually save public money, by helping people manage conditions before they reach crisis point and hospitalisation, which is worse for the person’s health and more expensive.
Rest assured, we will continue to do everything we possibly can to meet the demand, whilst reducing our running costs and working more effectively.
We have social work teams based at all the county’s hospitals, working alongside NHS staff to try and relieve pressure on hospital beds.
I’ve personally seen the Bassetlaw Hospital integrated discharge team in action, and local people should feel assured that they have some fantastic professional people looking after them, who have helped integrate care between health and social care.
We remain absolutely committed to providing the best possible social care for our residents in all its forms.
Indeed, only this week I have signed UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter which commits the council to delivering improved homecare for residents and more support for the county’s homecare workers.
But it’s only right that we let local people know about the incredibly difficult circumstances we are working under, the damaging, on-going budget reductions we’re being subjected to and the increased challenges public services in Nottinghamshire are facing.
It’s high time the social care crisis was addressed.