ADASS President Peter Hay has made an unprecedented offer to private care home owners to join him and other directors of adult social services in talks about fee levels paid by local councils.
In the middle of a continuing series of judicial reviews concerning fee levels paid for older and vulnerable adults in residential care, and at the end of a gruelling transfer of some 750 Southern Cross homes to other providers, Mr Hay asked the home owners at their annual conference*:
- Can we agree on some simple guidelines for a common approach to fees – or shall we pull apart when, really, we have a greater, common cause in the care of your residents/our citizens?
- Shouldn’t we consider mediation before we rush to judicial reviews and having to spend money on legal actions that neither of us has?
- Shouldn’t we do this at a speed which allows us to show the quality – the very high quality – of our business to the people that matter, rather than letting others talk that business down?
In his keynote address, Mr Hay extended this olive branch in a time which he described as `chillingly austere’: when events at Southern Cross and Castlebeck have vividly illuminated what can happen to vulnerable people “when social care goes missing”, and when social care budgets for 2012/14 (years 2 and 3 of the Comprehensive Spending Review) could well be cut by more than the £1 billion they have been cut this year.
This at a time when
- The gap between the needs of older and vulnerable people, and the resources available to meet those needs, is growing ever wider. "There are no gap-deniers," he said: "no flat-earthers around – people who don’t think this established and growing gap is emerging, however much we might disagree on the size of the gap."
- Unintentionally, judicial reviews are hardening arteries around the use of eligibility criteria to allocate funds, when those criteria are the only means by which resources can be controlled within the system.
- The barriers to social and health care integration are strengthening, even though integration is a known mechanism through which additional resources can be controlled within the care system.
Mr Hay ended his speech by emphasising again the vision for social care that ADASS is bringing into the 21st century: a vision for a "single, simple and personalised social care system which is understandable at the point of crisis, frees people from fears about its affordability, and offers peace of mind though dignity and safety for individuals." He ended: "It’s not just a story about older and vulnerable people. It’s our story too!"