Designing a social care system fit for the 21st century: strengths and weaknesses of the Care Act 2014

The first part of the Care Act 2014 drew heavily on the Law Commission’s review of adult social care. The review began in 2007 and its initial terms of reference did not even refer to carers or the notion of wellbeing but both came to feature heavily in the Act, illustrating that the Commission actively listened, particularly to carers’ voices. Placing informal carers on an equal footing with people drawing on care and the right to a carer assessment were significant breakthroughs in the Act.

The Caring Penalty

Caring is foundational to our society and our economy. Virtually everyone will give and receive care of some form over their lifetime, and everyone benefits from living in a world which is made more compassionate and more prosperous by the work of carers. Yet the immense value of care is not reflected in its material rewards. While professional carers often face low pay and poor working conditions, care performed within or between households is not paid at all.

Healthy homes and communities: working closer together to improve care

The Covid-19 pandemic, where lockdowns forced many of us to stay at home, and the past winter, with high energy bills and a cost-of-living crisis, have brought the importance of a good home into sharp focus. Many people are struggling to meet basic housing needs, let alone live in good conditions that promote physical health and mental wellbeing. So, what role can the health and care sector play?

Joining up care for people, places and populations

This is what our white paper aims to achieve by bringing together the NHS and local government to jointly deliver for local communities. It sets out a new approach with citizens and outcomes at its heart instead of endless form filling, unnavigable processes and a bureaucracy which sees too many people get lost in the system, not receiving the care they need. It is the start, not the end, of a new wave of reform which will both put power and opportunity in the hands of citizens and communities and build a state that is sustainable and just.

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