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Mears Group Response to Social Care Funding

Mears Group responds to the recent Government announcement regarding social care funding.
Mears Group responds to the recent Government announcement regarding social care funding.

Mears employ over 1000 carers across the country within extra care and supported living settings.

We welcome the Government grasping the nettle on social care funding – something which has alluded all Governments’ for over 20 years.

As a care provider we pose the following questions to civil servants and ministers when allocating the new funding:

Funding Gap: Out of the £36 billion over three years only 15% is ring fenced for social care. How will this fund current care needs before 2023? The Prime Minister has noted that 30,000 people are in hospital that actually need social care, so why is social care not getting more money immediately?

We would ask why the money cannot be spent on adult social care immediately by dividing up the pot between the NHS and local councils? This is an immediate problem which if left untreated will create longer term issues in 3 years’ time.

NHS: To ensure that we can build a truly sustainable care system we need urgent clarification regarding how the NHS intend to use this money. As we know extra money does not equate to extra services – can we be assured that every pound spent will be on patient care rather than feeding the bureaucracy?

Recognising Carers: What proposals will the Government bring forward to stop treating care workers as second-class citizens? NHS staff won’t have to pay higher National Insurance yet care staff will.

Terms and Conditions: Care workers do not receive equal terms and conditions to their NHS colleagues – in fact far below this standard. Will the Government include a reform package for care worker pay which keeps those people in the sector and finally recognises them as professionals rather than vocational workers?

Commissioning: We need to see a full review of how care is commissioned. Care staff roles need to be largely salaried roles and not paid by the hour, if we are going to get the capacity of staff needed to address the national backlog. This means not only setting a fair price for care but also commissioning in a different way.

Training: The mention of an increase in training investment whilst needed, will probably be largely swallowed up by social care staff and not front-line care staff. However, more training for care staff without much better pay and conditions, will not resolve the high staff turnover, meaning that training investment will be wasted.

Housing: To be effective the Government should bring forward a package of proposals which seek to reduce the likelihood of people needing to enter into long term care. This should include adapting housing through the new Decent Homes standard to create homes where people can live independently into old age. We should also seek to add extra care housing into the housing plans so that we have more suitable homes for people to live independent and dignified retirements, whilst keeping people out of the NHS.

We look forward to the White Paper but are fearful that Social care, will once again miss out on essential and meaningful reform.

About Mears

We have built on our work to integrate housing and care contracts, at the front-line delivery of service but also in the creation of new specialist accommodation, such as Supported Living housing and Extra Care property.

Mears currently provides care and support services to 21 extra care schemes across the country and have 10 years’ experience of providing services in these types of settings. Our services are provided in a wide range of schemes, including small buildings with a few properties and large sites with over 80 apartments. Within some local authority areas, we manage services across multiple schemes.

In 2019 Mears commissioned the HousingLin to conduct research into the market for extra care housing. The report shows a direct link between better housing and less reliance on the NHS. The full report can be viewed here

One of our sites, Balmoral Place, has been highlighted in national press showing the benefits of independent living. You can view the article here