Adult social care: finding a sustainable solution

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An ‘extra-care’ initiative is best exemplified through a care village. The concept is based around enabling people who require care, to live as normal life as possible and retain the independence they have had all their lives.

Much has been made of the ‘care home timebomb’ in recent weeks. The analogy refers to the growing demand for care home beds; the care industry needs to generate another 50,000 beds within five years to adhere to a growing demand. To meet the demand, an extra 15,000 homes for older people need to be created every year – a criteria that is not being met.   

The current ‘extra-care’ facilities tend to work on a mixed-tenure basis – from permanent purchase to rent. Residents, their families or both, are then able to pay extra for the services they require. Services range from round-the-clock care for those with dementia, to basic support that might include help with daily chores such as shopping. The initiative provides an alternative to occupational therapy – a service that the NHS budget can only afford to offer to priority patients. It is because of the lack of funding that some people can fall through the social care gaps and are consequently later admitted to hospitals or care homes when their health deteriorates.

However, whilst the scheme is a promising alternative, it has come under close-scrutiny and criticism. Only 30% of residents are funded by the NHS or by councils, all of whom are assessed based on clinical need or through social eligibility rules. That means 70% of residents are privately funded by their families, themselves or both. The average cost of an apartment on a Belong site is £164,000, whilst the average rent a week costs £259 including cover costs. The extra-care facilities cost extra – with 24-hour dementia care amounting to £930 a week. The cost of living in a care village quickly surges and can become unaffordable for the less affluent.   

A recent study has suggested dealing quickly and effectively with simple care and housing needs could cut the cuts of social care by almost a quarter. Moreover, by identifying and resolving social care needs quickly, people are more likely to avoid a hospital stay or admission to a care home. The project - dubbed Lightbulb – deploys housing teams from each of Leicestershire’s district councils and pairs them with GPs and other health and care professionals. The aim of the project is to identify and solve housing problems for people at risk at home, or for patients who cannot be discharged from hospital because they require social care support that cannot be provided at home. However, concerns have been raised about the sustainability of such a model considering the council cuts facing many counties.

Whilst there is not an immediate answer to the problems highlighted in this article, more research should be undertaken to establish a solution that is achievable and sustainable.

Vic Rayner, Executive Director of NCF and Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of adult social care at CQC will be speaking on such solutions at next year’s Dementia Care & Nursing Home Expo. Register for your free ticket here.

If your company is interested in exhibiting to 3,000 care home owners actively looking to purchase the last products and services helping to create such solutions, please contact Nick Woore, Event Director, now on:

Tel: 0117 990 2109