The Whose Social Care is it Anyway inquiry report made a number of “first asks” including some for council leaders. The report invited local leaders to adopt the social care future vision to steer local strategy and to employ the Think Local Ask Personal (TLAP) Making it Real framework to implement it, in collaboration with people that draw on social care to lead their lives.


Already a number of Directors of Adult Social Care have responded positively. Alongside TLAP we plan to gather supportive councils together in the autumn to offer advice & consider appropriate support.

This might be something you might want to explore in your own local area. If so, please read or promote this letter which was recently sent to all Directors of Adult Social Services in England:

Dear Director,

We are pleased to share the first findings of the Whose social care is it anyway? inquiry. You will be aware that this inquiry is being led by a diverse group of people who draw on social care, directly or as a family member. Its goal is to help the Social Care Future Movement and others to be clear how best to pursue the SCF Vision, starting from the views and experiences of people directly affected. It also aims to make a contribution to wider reform debates and activity, making sure that the voice of people is directly heard. The group has identified 5 key changes to steer action and is inviting action in these areas. We would appreciate your sharing the findings with colleagues and partners.

The inquiry group and wider Social Care Future movement are keen to ally with you and your colleagues in bringing about a better future. At national level we are engaged with ADASS and LGA to do this via the National Strategic Leaders Group.

In the report are a number of “first asks” including two for councils. In particular we are asking if leaders in councils would consider committing to use of the Social Care Future vision in combination with Think Local Act Personal’s Making it Real – to steer and support local strategy for change. Here is some early information about how Doncaster Council are exploring this.

We have agreed with TLAP that for those councils expressing an interest in this, we will offer a joint initial opportunity in the autumn to pull places together to explore and advise on this. Please do get in touch on this. We would be pleased to recognise councils making such a public commitment.

Very best wishes

Anna Severwright on behalf of Social Care Future

Dear Prime Minister, Boris Johnson MP, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP and Secretary of State for Health & Social Care, Matt Hancock MP

SOCIAL CARE REFORM

We are writing as leaders of organisations that represent adult social care nationally to urge the Government to act now on reform of England’s social care system and publish its proposals before the Summer Recess. In common with all people who draw on care and support, and colleagues working across social care, we are clear that the time to deliver reform is now.  Reform must be underpinned by a positive vision: ‘We all want to live in the place we call home with the people and things that we love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing the things that matter to us’, as Social Care Future put it.

Transforming social care so that it is sustainable and helps enable people with care and support needs to be fully included in their communities matters in its own right. More broadly, as we look to recover from the pandemic, we need to see social care as a key part of the solution and a key part of our infrastructure.

The vision we share cannot be achieved by social care or even wider public services alone. Public resources need to be targeted to support and supplement the efforts and activities of citizens, community groups, voluntary organisations and local businesses, building on the best of what we’ve seen in our local communities over the last fifteen months. The social care sector, working alongside other council services and the NHS, can shift its practices to enable a much-increased level of preventative activity, freeing up resources for personalised support to local people requiring long term care. 

Policy on social care, including funding reform, should be guided by and tested against this vision – with a single shared ambition across health and social care which puts people’s expectations for their lives at the centre. This can be measured using TLAP’s Making It Real framework.

Addressing longer term funding and co-producing a ten-year plan for social care will help enable successful implementation of the forthcoming Health and Social Care Bill and the revision of the Mental Health Act.  We recognise that helping people to avoid catastrophic care costs and selling their home to pay for care are important dimensions of the reform debate. But action on these issues alone will not suffice. We have collectively agreed that the priority areas for action are therefore as follows:

  1. Funding for short-term stabilisation

As a first step, the government must urgently address short-term funding challenges, which have been worsened by Covid, to prevent further deterioration in the access to and quality of care. An immediate injection of funding is needed to enable short term stability and avoid serious risks to support during the next phase of the pandemic and beyond. Work by our organisations and others has identified the most serious challenges to support which will require funding.

  1. Urgently bringing forward investment and reform proposals needed to ensure the sustainable long-term future of social care

The government should bring forward proposals for longer-term investment and reform as an immediate priority to create a simpler, fairer system. However, any additional funding that is made available to social care, should not simply be used for ‘more of the same’ and the pre-COVID-19 status quo. It should be targeted on action to shift towards the above vision, such as more home, housing and community focused, asset-based, inclusive and preventative models of care.

3. Investment in the short term to speed the shift towards a system of social care that is both sustainable and fit for the modern age. 

This includes:

A targeted fund enabling councils and their partners to make a rapid shift towards prevention.

A new deal for the care workforce, including personal assistants and other non-traditional workforce roles.

Funding support for action on inequalities and levelling up. 

An innovation fund to enable local authorities to harness the true potential of technology.  

Transformation and improvement support to councils and providers and to ensure a new funded transformation and improvement framework for adult social care.

Each of these actions is essential for creating the conditions in which social care can be a full and equal partner with the NHS and enable more people to remain independent, living in their own home or in their community.

We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our concerns with you and stand ready to work with the Government to ensure that our future social care system is best able to support people to live their best lives.

Yours faithfully,

Anna Severwright – Social Care Future

Clenton Farquharson – TLAP

Councillor David Fothergill, Chairman, LGA Community Wellbeing Board

Kathryn Smith – CEO Social Care Institute for Excellence

Kathy Roberts – CEO AMHP for the Care Providers Alliance

Martin Green – CEO Care England for the Care Providers Alliance

Martin Routledge – Social Care Future

Stephen Chandler – President ADASS

Cc Rt Hon Boris Johnson – Prime Minister

Cc Rt Hon Rishi Sunak – Chancellor of the Exchequer

By Neil Crowther

The vision and narrative developed by #socialcarefuture, which we published in April, was developed with people that draw on social care to live their lives and it was tested and refined through consultation with the general public.  It shifts public thinking about social care towards the way we want people to experience social care, and through doing so it commands more support from the public to invest in and transform social care.  

It offers a ‘North Star’ for social care and the beginnings of a route map to get there.  That’s vitally important because, as Thomas Coombes has said ““If we do not make the case for the world we want to see, who will?”

But it doesn’t say what’s wrong with social care today.  And that’s a weakness for two reasons.  First of all, as I have found, it can make it seem detached from people’s everyday lived reality and as a result, though people may be attracted to it, it can seem implausible or too far away from the immediate challenges people face.  Second, because – to flip Thomas’s point – if we do not define the current problems in the way we want and need them to be understood, who will?’  Framing the problem is a really important element of shifting thinking, because otherwise people default to their own assumptions or to what others are telling them and in turn the solutions we propose to them don’t make sense.  For example, in its work for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on changing public thinking about poverty, the Frameworks Institute found that people saw poverty only as the absence of basic material things, like food, shelter, clothing and warmth. All other things are understood as ‘wants’ or luxuries.  They conclude that this way of thinking “can help to garner support for a limited form of welfare support that meets basic needs, and action to address the costs of housing. However, it undermines support for a more robust welfare state and leads the public to focus on tightening up the benefits system.”  Or as As Julia Unwin has said ‘If you talk about housing in terms of desperation and  need, then you can’t be surprised if it becomes an emergency service.’  Similarly, if we allow the ‘crisis’ in social care to be about ‘failing to look after the most vulnerable’, whether or not people have to sell their homes to pay for care or about the threat of ‘provider collapse’, we will lose our grip in shaping the human-sized and shaped solutions we want to see.

So how can we fill that gap?

Firstly, by sticking to the headline vision ‘we all want to live in the place we call home, with the people and things we live, in communities where we look out for another, doing what matters to us.’  Good framing practice consistently advises us to lead with ‘shared values’ and with an articulation of what it is we want to achieve, not with the problem.  If we don’t do this we can cue up unsupportive values, especially paternalism, confirm people’s sense that this is about ‘other people’ and not relevant to them, and because few people have any experience or understanding of social care, fail to raise their expectations of what could be.  The function of this vision is not to depict social care as is, but to reveal the distance we have yet to travel, while setting the coordinates to get there.

Once we’ve done this, we can then frame the problem or problems in a way that reinforces this vision of what should and could be and points people back towards our vision and the solutions we advocate.  This is something the recent Whose social care is it anyway? Inquiry report begins to do, with its sub-heading ‘from permanent lockdown to an equal life’

The use of ‘permanent lockdown’ works at a number of levels.  It has universal resonance, and brings to life our headline vision, because these are the things that all of us, to different degrees, have experience the loss of: of being with the people and things we love, or feeling connected, or doing the things that matter to us and which make us who we are.  Hence, the problem with social care is that it fails to support people to live the life they want to lead – it restricts and restrains.  But it also crucially frames the problem as external – as having been imposed on people and hence something that can be resolved, through investing in and organising social care differently, which in turn will free people.  It’s a framing that can work across a range of specific issues, whether the inadequacy of packages of care or the impact of care charges (as many of the people speaking in this excellent File on 4 programme on care charges do so eloquently), the imposition by councils of strict rules over how we can use direct payments, or the failure of successive government’s to invest in building a sustainable future for social care for example. Note that it is also always important to bring into clear view the ‘heroes and villains’ of the story. That is, be as clear as possible about who is responsible for creating and solving the problems.   

Of course, we should never only talk about problems. By saying ‘from permanent lockdown to an equal life’ we provide the sense of release and the possibility of the better future towards which we want to move. Our vision, and the steps advocated by the Whose social care is it anyway? Inquirers are hence our ‘roadmap to freedom’. It’s crucial to marry an articulation of problems with a believable plan for change, without which fatalism can set in.  The inquiry group will be doing that over the coming months, and as they do, thinking about how to frame the solutions they advocate will be crucial too.

Ultimately our research and guidance has produced a framework for communicating differently – and for those that share our values and goals – more effectively to win public support, not a script. It is there to guide how you communicate and to help people to think differently about social care, not to dictate or police it. By following some basic rules, you genuinely can open up new possibilities, challenge assumptions and reshape expectations.

Nevetheless, the #socialcarefuture we advocate is one in which everyone has a stake and role, and so it only follows that everyone must have a voice and be heard. Try to follow the rules, but remember that the best communication is always a conversation where we respectfully listen, not a who can shout their message the loudest.

Today is a really exciting day, as the ‘Whose Social Care is it Anyway?’ Inquiry group issue our first findings.

The Whose Social Care Is It? Inquirers talk about the 5 key changes

The powerful thing about this inquiry is that is has been led by us, people who draw on social care to lead our lives or who support loved ones to do so. We got tired of being left out of the discussions about reform or being the ‘tick box service-user’ so we took matters into our own hands and started the Whose Social Care is it Anyway? Inquiry.

But we knew we didn’t know everything so we asked people whether they currently experience our vision (below) in their lives and their ideas for change.

We heard from over 500 people (thank you!) and from what people told us and our own experiences we have identified 5 key changes to bring our vision about.

They are: 

1.         Communities where everyone belongs

2.         Living in the place we call home

3.         Leading the lives we want to live

4.         More resources, better used

5.         Sharing power as equals

As we move into the next stage of the inquiry over the coming months, we will be looking into these 5 key changes in more detail and starting to craft the solutions that can make our vision a reality. Please share the report and look at the asks to see what you can do in your live or work to start making these changes happen.

Plain text version

If you would like to be part of helping to bring about our vision and the 5 key changes you can sign up here to be kept up to date with the work of the movement and opportunities to get involved:

We are united in our view that the Government’s proposals for the future of social care – promised again in the Queen’s Speech for later this year – must be brought forward urgently along with a clear timeline for action.

As senior members of organisations representing people who draw on, work in, commission, provide and regulate adult social care and support, we are united in our view that the Government’s proposals for the future of social care – promised again in the Queen’s Speech for later this year – must be brought forward urgently along with a clear timeline for action.

This was an important opportunity for the Government to make good on its promise to ‘fix social care’ and move the reform debate further forward, building on the many lessons that have been learned during the course of the pandemic.

One of those lessons is the clear and important role social care plays in supporting people to live the lives they want to lead. As Social Care Future put it:

Every further delay to social care reform is a further setback to the achievement of this vision and a further curtailment of people’s ability to lead their best life. We must do better and be bold in redesigning the function, form and funding of social care for all those who draw on social care and its dedicated care workforce.

In the weeks ahead, and as we gear up to this year’s Spending Review, social care funding and reform should be at the heart of the Government’s thinking on how best to emerge from the challenging times we have all faced over the last year with renewed optimism and hope. This is an agenda that is about maximising every person’s potential, strengthening our communities and bolstering our economies. Funding is needed for three important priorities:

  1. To stabilise social care for the short-term and prevent the escalation of the many pressures social care has faced before and during the pandemic, which will also help alleviate some of the pressures facing the NHS.
  1. To kick start the shift we need to make toward the vision we all share by supporting a greater focus on preventative activity, personalisation, support for the care workforce, action on inequalities, investment in innovation and technology, and transformation and improvement support to councils and providers.
  1. To secure the long-term future of social care. Such funding would not be used to resource the pre-Covid status quo and would instead be used to support models of care that are more preventative and person-centred.

We are all committed to playing our part in realising a brighter future for social care. As we have seen over the last year, there is great work happening in local areas across micro-enterprises, the wide range of communities’ different assets, mutual aid and innovative housing arrangements, to name a few examples.

We will continue to nurture these solutions in the move toward a broader offer of support. By working with Government on the above priorities we will be better able to spread this best practice and mainstream the many different models of care and support that enable people to live a fulfilling life and connect to the people and things that matter most to them.

Anna Severwright, Convener, #socialcarefuture

Cllr James Jamieson, Chairman, Local Government Association

Oonagh Smyth, Skills for Care

Clenton Farquharson MBE, Think Local Act Personal (TLAP)

Kathryn Smith, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)

Kathy Roberts, Care Provider Alliance

Stephen Chandler, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)