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Healthcare Crisis Response: A Call for Change

Table of Contents

In challenging times, we all have a social responsibility to help the health and social care community and the local authorities to make quality care services accessible to everyone.

The Current State of Healthcare Crisis Response

The current health and social care system is going through a difficult period. In the middle of the care crisis, it’s estimated that around 75% of people living with mental health challenges in England do not have access to the care and support they need. Additionally, people between the age of 16-24 have a lower chance of receiving mental health treatment than other age groups.

Further, over 2.5 million people in England above 50 do not have access to care, including thousands of people on waiting lists for support or a proper assessment of their needs.

Medical experts warn that these numbers are about to rise due to the years-long underfunding, serious staffing crisis and the growing ageing population, which means that more and more people will not receive the care and support they need. Unfortunately, this indicates that millions of people might struggle to eat, get dressed, or go to the toilet because they need additional assistance for personal care.

Key Issues in Current Crisis Response

In the past couple of years, several key reforms to the social care system in England have been planned but have yet to proceed due to the complex set of factors. According to the National Audit Office (NAO), the government planned to launch a new career structure to ‘fix the crisis in social care’, but this has been delayed. Without a radical reform to the health and social care system, there will be huge gaps in care access to people, leaving the most vulnerable at risk of having their health deteriorate.

In times of unprecedented social care crisis, we are facing serious challenges in properly meeting the needs of our population. With years of local underfunding, underpaid care workers, and fragmentation in the national system, millions of people will be calling for help.

The key issues in current crisis response include:

  • Limited funding and resources for local authorities within the past 10-year period.
  • Reduced resources for the most vulnerable and socially underdeveloped areas in England.
  • A workforce crisis indicates a lack of staff to care for and support the ageing population and people with complex care needs.
  • Low pay rates for social care workers who receive significantly lower wages compared to the other sectors in the UK.
  • Staff shortages have led to an abrupt increase in the number of unpaid carers – families and friends of loved ones who need additional assistance.
  • Lack of access to free social care services.

The selective approach to service provision creates inequality among people in need of publicly funded social care services. Therefore, making free personal care accessible to anyone in need is paramount for the entire health and social care community.

The Urgent Call for Change

Every one of us needs care at some point in life, whether it be healthcare, social care, or eldercare. With the system in crisis, the number of people in need of care is rising, and public services are still underfunded; people could be left to care for themselves. Is this the reality we all want for ourselves and our loved ones?

We believe this is a state of emergency and demands an urgent response from all of us as a community. This is the moment for a collective and collaborative change where we can all work in partnership to fight the current crisis and make fundamental changes in how people are treated and supported in the most vulnerable times in their lives.

Together, we can work to build capacities and more opportunities to support the local authorities and pledge to a better-funded national care service with better compensation rates for our frontline carers. Through collaborative work and co-production, we can prevent unnecessary hospital admissions, put a stop to delayed hospital discharges, and reduce the hours of unpaid care for unpaid carers.

This is an urgent call for change for all of us, as we all have a social responsibility to add social value to our community.

The Human Impact

Caring is a human trait. The health and social care crisis can unite us all by sharing our voices, actions, and interactions to make a change and support the system. The human impact has no limits if we work together toward shared goals.

While we cannot change the world, we can try to change our community by highlighting solutions coming directly from the people who are the most affected by the social care crisis. Co-production is an excellent opportunity for people needing care and organisations to work together to create change and develop the infrastructure needed to support the sector.

Long-Term Systemic Changes

As a health and social care organisation, we are genuinely committed to creating change in the social care sector by working closely with other healthcare organisations, local authorities and families. Our primary focus is to transform how people are supported by fostering new ways and building capacities so that people can receive person-centred care and support in the comfort of their homes or a home-like environment.

Based on our experience, transforming the health and social care system requires long-term plans and solutions. From our point of view, several aspects need to be reshaped to make a positive change and achieve positive outcomes for people who need it the most.

Reforming Healthcare Policies

When addressing the current social care crisis, it’s indispensable to think of reforming healthcare policies. For example, we can adopt a more proactive approach towards preventing care dependency through public health and social care initiatives and support. This involves implementing practices striving to support and empower people to retain their capacities for as long as possible by preventing unnecessary hospital admissions.

In other words, the initiatives should embrace a different approach to care, where every individual with complex care needs would have free access to personal care, potentially reducing the need for restrictive measures and crisis escalations and promoting independence. In addition to this preventive approach, we must consider strengthening home and community-based support to avoid admissions or re-admissions to a mental health hospital or another facility.

Support for unpaid care should also be a priority, and it can be done by providing respite care at specific times of the week, allowing the unpaid carer to have a work-life balance. However, taking care of the paid carers is equally important. For example, the emphasis should be placed on increasing the number of local employees on contract for at least one year. Investing more in social care workers’ health and financial resources will increase retention rates and reduce staff burnout.

Community-Based Care Approaches

Every one of us has an important role in creating a healthier, safer and more resilient community. We can take a number of actions and initiatives to support the engagement of people in health interventions or well-being activities, including the prevention of alcohol or substance misuse, obesity and eating disorders, as well as introducing physical activities for children and adults.

Similarly, we promote more working activities with the community and support vulnerable people in building social relationships and stronger community networks so they can live a more independent and fulfilling life. Volunteering in local community projects aimed to help disadvantaged people is also a contribution that each one of us can make in helping the current social care crisis.

By encouraging vulnerable people to be active and an equal part of society, we can help build an inclusive environment where every person’s human rights will be met and respected. When they feel accepted and valued, they are less likely to develop behaviours of concern or moments of crisis, which is one of the main reasons for using restrictive measures and hospital admissions.

Integrating Mental Health Into Primary Care

Primary care services are frequently the first port of call for people or families experiencing a mental health challenge. The NHS Long Term Plan includes expanding access to IAPT (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies) services for adults with mental health problems and people with long-term conditions.

Psychological therapy, as an integral part of primary care, has shown incredible success and improved outcomes for people with a range of physical and mental health challenges. The initiative is a part of the strategy for providing integrated care, where people’s physical and mental health needs are met together.

When discussing the benefits of integrated mental health support in primary care, we shall specify a few out of the many, including:

  • Cooperative working between mental health therapists and GP practitioners allows early intervention and a greater chance for positive outcomes.
  • Using psychological therapies in primary care services is officially approved by the National Institute of Care and Excellence, and the strategy shows significant improvement in people’s lives so they become more independent and less reliant on additional care.
  • The programme is very beneficial for older people as well, as people are able to receive mental health support while coping with a physical health condition. In many cases, older people show better outcomes from IAPT treatment than the younger population.
  • Cooperative working enables physical and mental health professionals to share experiences and good practices to improve people’s lives.
  • Mental health practitioners can participate in regular GP practice meetings as members of the primary healthcare teams, giving expert and general advice.

Hope for Healthier Future

Hope for a healthier health and social care future lies in our collective commitment to innovative approaches and holistic well-being. Advocating for accessible healthcare and empowering communities to participate actively in their own health journeys are crucial steps. Collaboration among healthcare professionals, local authorities, and communities ensures comprehensive care and equitable resource access. By nurturing compassion, resilience, and adaptability, we pave the way for a future where everyone experiences dignity, support, and optimal health across all facets of their lives.

The collective dedication to learning from past mistakes, embracing innovation, and prioritising empathy in care delivery instils a sense of optimism. While challenges persist, the unwavering commitment to building a more compassionate, efficient, and inclusive health and social care landscape holds the promise of a future where quality care is a fundamental right for all.

Transforming lives

Transforming care for the better