Just Group adult social care report image

Published by Just Group, a new report has detailed whether over-45s believe the coronavirus pandemic will act as a catalyst for social care reform.

Entitled ‘Social care: Coronavirus – can the catastrophe be a catalyst?’, it is the eighth edition of Just Group’s annual care report, which explores how over-45s think and feel about adult social care.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting just about every facet of daily life, this year’s report, instead, looks at whether the global pandemic will act as a catalyst to social care funding and policy reforms in England or whether it will exacerbate the social care situation.

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Stephen Lowe, Group Communications Director at Just Group, says within the report: “Care funding reform has been on the political agenda for more than two decades but is yet to make it to the top.

“Coronavirus has ravaged through many care homes in recent months, leading to thousands more deaths of elderly people than would normally be expected.

“The coronavirus crisis has brought much grief and difficulty but it also offers what is perhaps a unique opportunity to bring forward much-needed reforms that give people a reason to talk and to plan for a better future. It is an opportunity our leaders should seize.”

According to report, industry experts believe over half of the deaths caused by the coronavirus in England will be among care home residents.

Furthermore, 56 percent of the over-45s quizzed think that the lack of progress on social care policy by successive UK Governments made it harder for the social care sector to respond to COVID-19.

With the virus having such a devastating impact on the social care sector, 52 percent of the respondents believe that social care policy reform will be among the UK Government’s priorities.

In contrast, the report outlines that three in 10 over-45s disagree that social care reform will be pushed up the government’s agenda. 58 percent said they believe the government will have other priorities – such as the economy and Brexit – 37 percent think there will be a shortage of government funds and 28 percent said that the government will not want to make unpopular decisions.

The lack of social care funding and policy by the UK Government is not new news and has consistently been criticised by various organisations in recent years.

In the State of Local Government Finance Survey 2020, adult social care was named the top long-term financial pressure for councils, with nearly all of the councils expressing dismay on the government’s failure to deliver a long-term social care strategy.

Although Just Group’s latest report uncovered differing opinions amongst over-45s as to whether the COVID-19 crisis will be a catalyst for social care reform, it revealed that there is broad agreement on what constitutes fairness in paying for care, regardless of political affiliation.

Most people agree that if someone is unable to pay for their own care, then the UK Government should pay for it, the report found. 49 percent said the UK Government should pay for people’s care entirely.

Whilst respondents had differing views as to how social care should be paid for in England, there tends to be more agreement amongst voters than profound differences, Just Group says.

“Absence of consensus has been used as an excuse for lack of political progress,” the report suggests. “Perhaps the barrier is more a lack of political courage to push through the reforms needed to create a social care system fit for purpose in the 21st century.

“With the State unlikely to take on the burden of providing free care to all, the onus will be on many individuals to shoulder some responsibility for preparing for their own future care needs. This will require delivering better information, greater access to advice and a wider choice of options.”

To conclude, the report suggests some key principles that adult social care reforms should address, which are:

  • Raising awareness – the new system must raise the public’s awareness of their liability to pay for care, as well as the costs involved.
  • Help individuals plan – encouraging more people to budget or plan for the risk that they will need to meet future care costs.
  • Provide incentives – with many individuals needing to self-fund, mechanisms should incentivise people to plan ahead.
  • Simplicity and clarity – new rules should be easy to communicate to the public and make clear any costs they are expected to pay and how these might be offset by State benefits.
  • Planning for the long-term – individuals need confidence that the new system will be stable and not prone to modification or meddling.
  • Be realistic – with no ‘one size fits all’ solution likely, the reforms need to embrace a range of options that can be tailored to people’s individual preferences and circumstances.

You can read Just Group’s full report here

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