We have heard a lot recently about the “fragmented” social care sector along with some rumblings about the National Health Service becoming responsible for the sector. I’ve worked in health and social care in England for almost two decades now and I can tell you this. In my experience, there is just as much good practice in the private social care sector as there is in NHS settings.
The NHS has been seriously run down over the last decade and it’s obvious that there just isn’t enough money to go around. It’s heartening to know that the government has committed £10 billion to health and it would be nice to know that some of that money – or a similar amount – is going into social care, but I very much doubt that.
Social care is anything which people may need support with outside of medical intervention. That is eating, drinking, personal care, social interaction, support with finances, correspondence, shopping, and so forth. It is the stuff that makes life worth living. And, while the NHS is very good at medical interventions, they’re not really so great at the other stuff. The medical model boils everything down to health. Deprivation and poverty are only seen from the point of view of how they affect health. Social interactions are primarily seen as a deterrent to mental health issues. Bathing and creaming are seen as a way to maintain skin integrity and so on. I think you get the picture.
While there has been a lot of press around care homes, not much attention has been paid to care in the home, although around double the number of people – about 1 million - receive care and support in their home as opposed to a care home.
There is a place for all forms of care and support in our society. Some people are best cared for in the home they have lived in for years, others may be better off in an extra care facility or a care home. A very small minority need to be cared for in a hospital setting.
Let’s think in a broader way as we tackle the social care crisis. Let’s think about health and wellbeing.