A ‘game’ of two halves

Well, this last fortnight has been somewhat of a ‘mixed bag’ when it comes to how I view social care at the moment.

Part of this included my attendance at the CQC State of Care launch on 13th October. I sat there and listened to the Chief Executive and Chief Inspectors, looked through the summary and sent out the odd tweet. I sent three in quick succession actually, named the good, the bad and the ugly – which in a nutshell summarises the findings of the report.

The Good – over 70% Adult Social Care providers are providing ‘good’ care.
The Bad – the need for Adult Social Care is increasing in an environment where access to services is decreasing. And when the need for improvement is identified, services are struggling to do so.
The Ugly – some providers are handing back contracts, as they feel they are unable to achieve quality due to inadequate funding. So the market is shrinking and so is opportunity for providers to offer quality support and care.

I caught up with Andrea Sutcliffe after the launch and I made the point that it was good to know that THE regulator is on the same page as the rest of us and is realistically portraying the challenging, worrying situation within Health and Social Care. (Read Andrea Sutcliffe’s blog here). The next question is when will the government listen, the critical issue around funding and the need for clarification of the law in respect of sleep-ins needs to happen NOW. I fear we continue to face an uphill battle with this but, this will be no surprise to you and we continue to keep the pressure up.

A tweet that came up on the screen when I was in the hall also said something along the lines of “after this report, if social care isn’t trending by 10am then there’s something wrong”. Was it trending? No. That in itself an indication of the profile of social care – something we are working hard to change.

Now for something completely different… Yesterday I visited one of our members, Halas Homes in Halesowen, and whilst I was there I was able to sit in with the group who are taking part in a project which is partly funded by the David Wandless Training Bursary from Real Life Options. It was fabulous. The passion and energy in the room was almost tangible! Their project is based around the use of Black Country prose and music, celebrating dialects of the area and to involve people who use their services to share stories and perform them. As I observed the group with Alison Sayer, CEO of Halas, she was telling me the gentleman stood before us is usually a shy, retiring type but there he was speaking from the heart, loud and proud, reading his own prose written about a dear memory, practicing for the upcoming performances soon to be performed in the local community. Clearly, the project is about much more than writing a poem, it is giving the group an opportunity to express more about who they are, and their confidence levels are growing enormously. It is also giving the group fuel for conversations in the evenings. In its purest sense I watched people, not somebody with a disability, connect with their cherished memories and it made me start to reminisce as I sat there too. Powerful, uplifting and heart warming stuff whoever you are, wherever you are from. So thank you, Alison and the team, for putting a smile on my face and an opportunity to take a minute to look at the good that is out there in social care, what that truly means and the difference it makes.

So there we are, the stark truth about the state of care, the statistics, the funding, the politics, demoralising stuff. And then yesterday, the stark truth about what you are all about, why you do what you do and the difference it makes to us all.

Lisa Lenton
ARC England Director

21.10.16