I believe we must all receive dignified care in old age. As our population ages, this is one of the biggest challenges our country faces.
This is an issue that is close to my heart as both of my grandmothers needed care having been diagnosed with dementia, with one living in a care home and another cared for by relatives.
I support the Government’s commitment to making sure that the most vulnerable in society gain the support they need. While it is important to note that more than 4 of every 5 people in care receive care from good and outstanding organisations, more needs to be done to tackle this serious challenge – crucially by securing a long-term funding solution.
In Chichester, we have a higher number of older people, I have visited care homes in Chichester and seen the excellent care and support they provide.
I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has spoken of his determination to tackle this, stating in his first speech as Prime Minister that “we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all with a clear plan we have prepared, to give every older person the dignity and security they deserve”.
Since 2015, local authorities have had greater flexibility over the use of the council tax social care precept, so they can choose to raise extra money, as well as retain savings from the New Homes Bonus, totalling £240 million. In the Spending Round in September, an extra £1.5 billion was made available to councils for adult social care services. This funding should be viewed as a significant down payment as we move towards a long-term funding solution.
The Adult Social Care Plan sets out how the Government will work with care homes in response to coronavirus, as well as providing additional funding for them. This includes £3.7 billion to ease pressures on adult social care, £1.3 billion to enhance discharge procedures and a further £600 million for infection control.
Money alone will not fix the problem and reform is needed to encourage high standards across the whole country. It is vital for us to consider ways of better joining up health and care services, and I am encouraged that the use of the Better Care Fund to assist local government and the NHS with the implementation of integrated health and care services will help in this regard.
In the Conservative Manifesto, on which I was proud to stand, it was made clear that we must build the same level of consensus on social care that we have already built on the NHS, across political parties, so that an answer can be brought forward that solves the problem, commands the widest possible support, and stands the test of time. I stand by this commitment and urge my colleagues and constituents of all political beliefs to take part in a conversation about establishing a care system fit for the 21st century.
I hosted a virtual roundtable with care homes in Chichester to discuss the challenges, including access to PPE (personal protection equipment) and testing, facing care homes following the coronavirus outbreak. I understand coronavirus has presented a unique challenge to care homes and access to PPE and testing are major areas of discussion. I routinely engage with councils and the Local Resilience Forum to ensure care homes are equipped with the necessary resources during this unprecedented time.
During my time as Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Social Care, a report was produced on the need to professionalise the care sector workforce through training, development and renumeration.
I recognise that care workers have worked incredibly hard throughout this pandemic. They have been looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our country and doing an outstanding job.
It is thanks to the efforts of care workers that we have got the virus under control even in care homes. This Government will continue to support them.