By Martin Routledge
Right now, around the country, there are glimpses of a better, brighter future for what we now call ‘social care’, in places, groups and organisations – some very small scale, some bigger – where people are making better things happen and pointing towards how things could be. But these examples are the exception, the minority. Even when better ways of doing things have proven themselves, they often stay small scale with major barriers to growing or spreading and with strong forces limiting them.
While our focus will not be primarily on resources, we know that social care and the people that use it have been badly damaged by long-term under-investment and more recent cuts and that this damage needs to be repaired to have any kind of positive future. We are very supportive of those pressuring and negotiating with government to secure sustainable investment for the future and many of those involved with #socialcarefuture will be part of such efforts.
The role of this, initiative, however, is to complement action on resources by taking collective action to bring about major change to what social care does and how it does it. We start from a strong concern that even when the financial situation was better, systems, practices and “services” for disabled and older people and for people with long-term health conditions, powerfully reflected their institutional roots and have not substantially changed in decades. They have recently been referred to as “The Invisible Asylum.” We are concerned also that the prominent discussions about social care amongst national and local government are stuck on how to “ease the crisis” or provide funding for existing service models, ownership approaches and professional practices. They are limited to who will pay and how, rather than how public resources can be used more effectively. At the same time, in so far as the public is aware of social care, it is something people see as a last resort, for people who are desperate and mostly to be avoided.
#socialcarefuture is for people who don’t want us to be stuck here.