Health and social care provision for older people

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2019 National Retired Members Conference
1 January 2019

Conference recognises that health and social care workers are dedicated and hard working but lowly paid with poor terms and conditions. They do their best to provide quality care but against a background of crisis within health and social care services.

Research confirms care for residents in privately run homes for the elderly can be inadequate due to poor terms and conditions and lack of training. This results in large numbers of vacancies and staff shortages which further affects the quality of care. Care Inspectors highlight examples of abuse to residents and inadequate care while the private providers continue to make a substantial profit.

Earlier this year the largest commercial provider of residential care went into administration, and many others are struggling as cash strapped local authorities cannot fund adult care adequately, resulting in it not being an economically viable proposition for providers in the private sector. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find residential care for those suffering from even mild dementia or from more challenging conditions.

In a report for the Centre for Policy Studies, Damien Green MP has recognised the crisis situation ahead of the government’s Green Paper on the Future Funding of Care, which is due out in June 2019. His proposals are said to include that about half the cost of domiciliary and nursing care could be met by the state.

Many of us would have seen the recent shocking Panorama programme looking at the crisis in social care shown on TV.

The prospect of the promised social care green paper ever being delivered is looking more and more unlikely as time goes by. For over two years now we’ve been promised action and seen nothing to back that up.

We have an ageing population and it is time to get real. More and more of us will need support when we grow older.

Meanwhile, a report from the County Councils Network (CCN) has predicted that English councils risk insolvency if government does not move rapidly to fill a £50bn funding black hole opening up in local authority budgets. Without extra funding, the CCN said rising demand for social care will see council finances plunged into disarray and services cut to legal minimum levels. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, spending on adult social care has already fallen by 5% in real terms between 2009 -2018.

To add to the misery abuse in care home continues.

Private care homes (approximately 80% of all social care is delivered by the private sector) often use untrained staff or staff with limited training and the turnover of staff, often poorly paid, is high.

There is often not enough staff to be able to afford the care, dignity and respect to the elderly they deserve, many of whom have had long working lives since leaving school at 14/15 years of age.

In recent years changes have been made with the intention to improve social care service for the elderly e.g. personalisation, re-ablement, self directed support and health and social care integration. However the focus has been budget management or reduction rather than real improvements. The challenges of these these new approaches have been highlighted in those areas where they have been introduced or trialled.

UNISON has recognised the problems and produced Residential Care and Ethical Care Charters. Conference commends those local authorities who have signed up to these Charters but these are few in number, around 5% across the UK.

If we want a health and social care system that meets the needs of older people then public money should be spent on services and invested in staff who provide these services.

Conference calls upon the National Retired Members’ Committee to liaise with the National Executive Council, the National Pensioners’ Convention, the Scottish Pensioners’ Forum, Age UK, the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Scottish TUC and Labour Link and to:

1) Continue to campaign against any privatisation of health and social care for older people; and

2) Carefully consider any proposals and respond to any consultation (if possible within the constraints of deadlines) and ;

3) To bring all of the provision of care back into the Public Sector and press for a National Care Service funded from general taxation.

4) To work to challenge practices that are contrary to human rights legislation;

5) To further call for the adoption of the principles of UNISON’s Ethical Care and Residential Care Charters by all public bodies commissioning or providing health and social care services for older people;

6) To ensure that social care staff are paid the living wage in all sectors;

7) Adequate staffing levels are adopted; and appropriate training provided.

Scotland Region

Derbyshire County / East Midlands Region (duplicate motion)