ADASS Spring Budget Survey 2022 image

The adult social care sector is set to face its most challenging year yet, as three-quarters of directors responded to a new survey saying that they are receiving more referrals and requests for support from the community.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) is warning that the year ahead will be the most challenging that adult social care staff have ever faced.

A comprehensive assessment of the adult social care sector, the survey reveals that the long-term impact of both austerity and the Covid-19 pandemic on support for people with care needs is now being compounded by spiralling inflation and intense labour market pressures.

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ADASS Spring Survey 2022 was published yesterday (19 June).

An overwhelming 82 percent of directors report increased referrals of people discharged from hospital, while around three-quarters are recording more referrals and requests for support from the community.

Responding to the publication of the ADASS Spring Survey 2022, Sarah McClinton, ADASS President, said: “Adult social care has long been in a fragile state, but growing economic turbulence is rapidly deepening our problems and concerns.

“We are at the centre of the storm. Those who need or work in care are amongst the most exposed to the cost-of-living crisis.

“A growing number of Directors tell us that they have never been more concerned than they are about the winter to come. We need action and funding now to support recovery in social care, just as in the NHS, and build firmer foundations for the reforms we all want to see.”

Half of the survey respondents are also seeing more referrals and requests because of the lack of other services in the community.

The increase in adult social care referrals and requests could be in part due to other factors, such as mass care provider closures and staff shortages.

70 percent of directors say that care providers in their area have closed, ceased trading, or handed back contracts to local councils. Many more cannot deliver the increased care and support needed due to staffing shortfalls.

Additionally, 73 percent of directors report rising numbers of cases of breakdown of unpaid carer arrangements.

Existing challenges of rising requests for support, increasing complexity of care required, fragile care markets, and underpaid, undervalued and overstretched workforce, risks being compounded by the current cost of living crisis. People who need care and support, unpaid carers, and those who work in adult social care are amongst the most exposed, ADASS warns.

Now, the association is calling out for substantial and immediate help from the UK Government to avoid the “most difficult winter” ever.

Cathie Williams, ADASS Chief Executive said: “Our health and social care services are in jeopardy.

“Without immediate and substantial help from the government, we face the most difficult winter we have ever experienced during which more people will miss out on vital care, others will wait longer for support and choice and quality will decline still further.

“Measures so far to ‘fix’ social care simply do not address the scale of current funding and workforce challenges and are crying out for a long-term, properly funded plan.”

The survey also found that the proportion of council budgets spent on adult social care was 37.2 percent of their overall budget.

Responding yesterday to the publication of the survey, Cllr Martin Tett, Adult Social Care Spokesperson for the County Councils Network, said: “Today’s report from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) is another important piece of analysis in illustrating how fragile and under pressure the current system is.

“The government’s social care reforms package could improve the accessibility of services and make the system fairer, but as the County Councils Network (CCN) has argued it will not address the immediate challenges councils face in delivering care services, including the emerging issues highlighted today.

“We support ADASS’s calls for further funding for local authorities this year, with inflation adding at least £430m to county local authority budgets.

“Looking further ahead, the government’s reforms, due to be implemented next year, could pose substantive challenges for local government. CCN’s analysis shows that these reforms could be underfunded by at least £10bn in the decade from when they are introduced, with county areas most exposed. We urge the next government to closely examine the quantum and distribution of funding for these reforms ahead of their inception.”

Adult social care is not the only sector seeing a huge surge in demand. Recent analysis from the Health Foundation predicts that 23,000-39,000 extra NHS beds could be needed in 2030/31 to maintain pre-pandemic standards of care.

This increase in health and social care needs puts pressure on the entire system. Struggles to cope with demand within the NHS spills out into local authorities in a bid to free up bed space. Likewise, if individuals are not receiving appropriate care in the community, this could lead to avoidable hospital stays.

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