#socialcarefuture, a unique movement of people that draw on or work in the field of social care, has today joined forces with organisations representing local councils, charities and professionals to call on Ministers to break their silence on the future funding of social care.
Anna Severwright, convener of #socialcarefuture said “While the government has set out its ‘roadmap to freedom’, many of us who draw on social care to live our lives fear something akin to permanent lockdown unless further resources are committed urgently.”
“People and families in our network that draw on social care are already telling us that they are facing increased costs and reduced services because of this underinvestment in our lives. After the year many of us have had to endure, this just adds insult to injury”
“Today we are joining with others to express our deep disappointment at the invisibility of social care in the Chancellor’s budget statement and are calling on the government to show that the lives of older and disabled people and their families matter and to give hope by investing now to grow the brighter future we all want to look forward to”
We are calling on the government to:
Make an immediate announcement of extended and increased funding from April to stabilise social care and to ensure continuity of support to those who draw on social care, while meeting the continuing costs of Covid-19
Commit to publication before the summer parliamentary recess of promised proposals for sustained and sustainable investment in social care, giving MPs the opportunity during the recess to hear from their constituents about the care and support they want for themselves, their families and communities.
Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS)
Care and Support Alliance
Care Provider Alliance
Local Government Association (LGA)
Social Care Future
Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)
Think Local Act Personal (TLAP)
#socialcarefuture is a movement of people and organisations that draw on or work in the field of social care, pursuing investment in and reform of social care so that everyone can look forward to living in the place they call home, with the people and things that they love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing what matters to us.
Social Care Future is all of us reading this newsletter. We have come together freely as a movement because we are determined to make big change happen in what we currently call social care. We have gathered around a vision as our north star:
We are not a funded organisation. We have a host organisation, the charity In Control, that supports us and at this stage of our development, four “convenors” co-ordinate things on a voluntary basis – Anna Severwright, Martin Routledge, Julie Stansfield, Neil Crowther. Lots of other members of the movement get involved in action in support of achieving the vision and offering support including sharing their skills, taking forward projects, funding for initiatives. Our movement runs on this mutual and collective spirit. We have a chance of a big impact and need to build our movement strength, numbers and action over the next twelve months. See below for some of the “how” but please also share your ideas and offers of contribution
Lots of us came together in November for our first on-line festival. More than 400 people signed up for the three-day gathering. 30 sessions combined presentations, debates, interviews, theatre, music and conversation. Lots of the sessions were about key issues and initiatives or to help steer our ideas and plans for next steps. Members of the movement shared inspiring and exciting projects and action. We were delighted that our first on-line gathering still managed to capture the spririt of movement togetherness and equality
On social media, Anna Severwright has led calls for people to say “enough is enough” to conferences and events about social care with no or only token presence of people who draw on social care themselves. Its hard to see social care changing towards our vision if people keep being talked about not with. See Anna’s thoughts here, with a little video and the Pledge – not to attend or organise events without people #oursocialcare – Social Care Future. The good news is that hundreds of people have “signed” the pledge including some prominent national figures who say they will speak to organisers to try to change things. We are meeting with representatives of major “sector” groups to see if we can agree a joint protocol that they will follow and promote. If this is something you feel is important please consider signing and share the pledge and asking other people to agree. We are using the hashtag #OurSocialCare. If you have practical ideas and examples that can support a protocol please share them. We will bring interested members together soon on this.
Members of the movement look for opportunities to work with and influence others to support our Vision and take practical action to support it. As part of this, our convenors and others have worked on using relationships and connections and seeking particular groups and initiatives that can help. We have spoken at many events and had discussions and meetings with lots of groups.
Our vision is starting to gain traction and starting to be used by lots of groups. We have had a significant influence, for example, over recent statements and principles put out by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Association.
Every two weeks we meet informally with a national “Strategic Leaders” group to ensure that our movement’s issues are heard by the most senior statutory, provider umbrella body, and other national leadership groups. This also offers an opportunity to meet with senior government officials.
One example recently is that we had the chance to co-ordinate writing to the Treasury on behalf of most of the main social care leadership groups at the time of the Spending Review. The letter that went was different from most such letters as it put our vision right upfront and rather than just asking for money for more of the same – instead asked for investment in a better future. You can see it here: Priorities for the Comprehensive Spending Review – Social Care Future We plan to build on this as we move towards the more important review in 12 months,
Another example would be our challenge to ensure people with lived experience of social care are heard in reviews and plans about it. For example we ensured witnesess with lived experience at the Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee and a commissioner with lived experience for the Demos Commission
The Whose Social Care Future is it Anyway Inquiry
However, most inquiries or discussions about the future of social care ignore the wealth of knowledge and expertise people who draw on social care bring, so as Anna Severwright says “our inquiry is led by us, a group of people who all have direct lived experience of social care ourselves or for our family. We have established The Whose Social Care Future is it Anyway? inquiry. A diverse group of 12 people with lived experience from across the movement have come together to help to identify what needs to change to enable our vision to become a reality in people’s lives” Meet the #socialcarefuture Inquirers – Social Care Future
We are just finishing the first phase, gathering people’s experiences and ideas for change, and have had a great number of responses – over 500. Then with support from academics in the movement we will read and analyse the responses and the inquiry group will consider the big issues and ideas arising. We also plan to have some events – debates and online gatherings to look in more detail at some of the main themes and hear from a range of experts across social care. From everything we have heard we will then produce recommendations for how to progress the SCF vision and how we can take this forward into action for our movement and others. This will shape the future work plans of our movement as we work together to try and make these changes happen.
How to build public support to transform social care
Thanks to the financial and in-kind contributions of many movement members, we’ll soon be publishing our findings and recommendations from research carried out with strategic communications experts Equally Ours and public opinion researchers Survation into how we can build public understanding and support for our vision of social care. Excitingly, the research has found that a reframed narrative can lead the public to express stronger support for investment and reform and that talking about #socialcarefuture’s vision and approach provides a highly effective route for doing so. Moreover, the research found that after exposure to our new narrative, people were far more likely to associate social care with themes such as independence, relationships and community and far less likely to associate it with paternalistic ideas such as vulnerability and compassion. We are doing a small, linked piece of work looking at influencing local elected members. We will be publishing a summary of the research and guides on using the new narrative in March including a major launch.
Challenging the unacceptable, offering solutions
Our focus is on positive action to bring about a better future – wherever possible finding common cause across people who draw on social care, their families and those charged with offering support or commissioning it. This does not, of course, mean we won’t be part of challenges to the rhetoric-reality gap between policy and people’s experience. The Be-Human movement have been offering people the opportunity to register their experience of social and health care and other public services during the pandemic and where requested receive assistance. This took the form of direct advice and support to people and families and a series of practical webinars and guides. Their report from this register is called Building Personal Power. You can see it here: iC-Building-Personal-Power-report-2021-SINGLE-FINAL.pdf (in-control.org.uk)
A number of movement member groups, people and families have been meeting recently, concerned about one of the issues that came up significantly in the register – cuts and extra charges even during the pandemic. Movement members may have seen the recent National Audit Office report anticipating significant cuts and increases in charges. This group has decided to gather more information and challenge what some have called “adding insult to injury”. A survey is underway which we are supporting and we will assist with attempts to draw this to media attention. Here is the survey: Charges for social care and cuts to provision during the Coronavirus pandemic?
Building the movement into a powerful force for change
It feels like we have made a good start this past two years – it’s vital though that we now build on this and turn our movement into a very strong force for change. This is being explored in a number of ways:
One is to look at supporting additional members of our movement with lived experience of social care to be the powerful spokespeople and influencers that can ignite the power of a movement for change. We have started discussions with a national leadership development organisation to explore a potentially large scale focussed leadership development programme over the next few years. Movement members have helped by identifying potential funders of such a programme. The next stage will be to see if we can secure funding and if so, the co-produced design of a programme. In the meantime we want to pull together and grow the number of willing and available people with lived experience up for things like speaking to media, attending events and joining influencing groups. We welcome ideas and suggestions and in our next phase start to take this forward.
We’ve also been fortunate to be benefiting from free support from a group called the Impact Accelerator who have identified Social Care Future as a “high potential grassroots movement” to support. These are experts in supporting movements to have big impact, via media and communications, campaigns and influencing policymakers – some members for the last three years have been supporting Grenfell Families in their campaigns on cladding and beyond for example. They are advising us and the inquiry group about how to exponentially increase our reach and impact and helping put a plan together for the next 12 months (see the request for funding support on this).
A long-term framework for the transformation of social care?
Most thinking and action concentrates on making a case to central government. Though this is important it is very unlikely to lead to the kind of change we are looking for on its own. As we develop our movement strategy we will have to think beyond this. Neil Crowther has offered some initial thoughts here A long-term framework to transform social care? – Social Care Future What do you think? Anna Severwright shared some of the things she has been saying to “system leaders” as well – thinking about what we want to emerge as we move from the worst of Covid – certainly not more of the same Social care after Co-vid-19 – Social Care Future
A movement programme for 2021-2
Throughout 2021 we will be running a programme of activity aimed at supporting action to turn our vision into a reality. The programme combines:
Sharing approaches and practices that can help build towards the future vision.
Updates on movement action and opportunities to get involved.
Key debates on issues identified by the Whose Social Care Future is it Anyway inquiry group.
The programme will have core sessions every two months starting in May with supplementary additional activity as appropriate. The bi-monthly sessions will run 11-3pm each day. The detail of the programme is open to development and contributions and ideas are invited from movement members. It will be vital to support the inquiry and practical action flowing from our strategy development with the Impact Accelerator. Some of the activities and big issues looking likely to emerge from the Inquiry deliberations include:
We will run our annual larger, 3 day gathering again in November to coincide with the National Adults and Children’s Social Care Conference
A programme is currently under preparation – please get in touch to share ideas and offer contributions.
How to support Social Care Future
Both donations and “In-kind” support are welcome and needed to sustain and grow our joint movement.
Social Care Future receives no core funding in order to act independently. Some initiatives are sponsored by movement members “without strings”. Income from this programme will be used to sustain our movement activity – in particular co-production, movement building and administration. All programmes are run on a “pay if you can” basis in order to ensure no financial barriers to participation. Donations from groups able to support the movement are welcome. Please see the attached note for more information:
I felt increasingly angry and frustrated reading this piece by the comedian Jo Brand in the Independent this morning. It seems unlikely to have been written simply at the author’s own initiative and hence is probably connected to wider campaigns. The article has good intentions – seeking better status, pay and conditions for people who work in care and support. But, even if unthinking, by painting people who draw on support as a burden or depicting care work as intrinsically unfulfilling (‘thankless’ ‘arduous’ ‘boring’ ‘unenviable’) it seems unlikely to help. The truth of the matter is that the low status accorded to care workers derives from the low status accorded to people who draw on care and support and in turn to supporting people to live their lives. Reinforcing such thinking helps no one.
People who draw on care and support and their families, and people who work in care and support, who may also draw on it, have a shared interest in winning both an uplift in government investment and changes to the way local councils commission care. Guided by the principle of ‘reciprocal dignity’, the goal should be a win-win, not one of gaining traction for worker rights off the back of stigmatising the people who rely on care and support. I think the US campaign Caring Across Generations does it really well in this video, by centrering on relationships, love and reciprocity:
How might people who work in social care and their backers make the case for improving the pay and conditions in a way that accords with #socialcarefuture’s vision and values? I’ve had a go here:
“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 each other, doing what matters to us. Social care exists to ensure that everyone can look forward to this, providing support to do so if we or someone we care about have a disability or health condition during our lives. As people who work to support others to live their lives, it is an aspiration we share for ourselves and our families, and it is what we hope our support can help people to achieve and maintain. But decades of underinvestment by successive governments and the way local councils fund social care make that harder and harder. Our pay and conditions, often the National Minimum Wage and zero hours contracts, coupled with the way councils commission social care by ‘time and task’ make it almost impossible to provide support to people in the way we would like to without it becoming impossible for us to make even a basic living. We are forced to provide only ‘life and limb’ support in very short timeframes, with little time left to attend to the things that matter most to all our wellbeing – a life with meaning, purpose and good relationships.
That’s why we all have an interest in changing this, investing in social care to ensure that we can look forward to a decent life for each other, whether we or a loved one requires support, or we are involved in offering it. Ensuring that people who work in social care enjoy fair pay and decent terms and conditions is a crucial building block towards a brighter social care future.”
Another social care conference… the big names talking… and no one who draws on social care speaking at the main sessions.
This is 2021 and still the conversations about social care, are happening without us, people with lived experience of social care (either themselves or as a family carer).
Thankfully we have progressed; to a place where if a conference on gender inequality had no female speakers, it would be criticised and probably draw protests. Or an event about tackling racism, had only white experts, rightly it would lack all credibility. And yet social care conferences are full of experts and leaders, who usually have never experienced living with the very thing they are talking about. Or we have to beg to be begrudgingly added last minute as the ‘token service user’.
Social care needs a #MeToo or #BLM moment!
Why does this matter?
– A buzz word in social care is ‘asset based’ – seeing people’s strengths- and yet deep down much of the sector still sees its role as caring for vulnerable people and that they best know what people need. When I said I wanted to be able to go out with my friends more often, I was offered a befriending service. This sense that we are vulnerable is deep in the culture and is perpetuated by the idea that we couldn’t possibly be able to contribute to discussions or at conferences. #ValuableNotVulnerable
– We are also experts. I live this every day. And I know what works well and what doesn’t. I can tell you where I have been given off the shelf options that never worked and wasted money or some simple changes that would mean I need less care long term. This doesn’t replace other experts but compliments their knowledge.
– We care too! Believe me I have a huge desire to see a strong and successful social care, my quality of life relies on it. I also care about the social care workforce because my life is intrinsically linked to theirs. We have the same goals.
– When we get added on as a last minute tokenistic gesture, frankly it’s insulting and humiliating.
– Simply because it’s the right thing to do! The fact these meetings and conferences happen without us is shocking. Or should be. But it happens all the time so the sector accepts it. #OurSocialCare
At Social Care Future we got so fed up with this normal that we have launched the Whose Social Care Is It Anyway? Inquiry, led by a group of people with lived experience. We will also hear from other experts and leaders from social care- this isn’t about removing them- but about rebalancing the voices where so often we are left out. We will also focus on what really matters to people, not get lost in the bureaucracy of the system.
So what can you do?
In recent years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet lots of social care system leaders, many of whom seem to be really genuine in their desire to see change. But most of these people still keep attending and in some cases running these events that effectively exclude us. I say now if you want to be our ally you need to personally change your behaviour. You need to make sure all of your own events are designed and delivered alongside us. And if you are invited to join events a true ally would refuse to do so unless they were similarly codesigned with equal opportunity to participate. If you, the powerful influential people don’t do this nothing will change. So I am asking you to be my ally.
You can also copy the text and use it on Facebook, Linkedin or other social media:
I pledge. If I’m asked to speak at a conference or contribute to another kind of public debate about social care I will ask organisers to ensure full & equal contribution from people who draw on social care. Share if you will pledge #OurSocialCare
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.
For everyone, these are really important things in life. They make us who we are, give our lives meaning and make us happy. But for many, who need some support from social care, we have had to fight for support and often that support has meant losing some of these important things from our lives.
Whether you receive social care, care for a loved one, don’t qualify for support, work in social care or are someone who cares about this- your opinion and ideas are important and will help inform the findings of the inquiry.
We are offering many ways to tell us what you think, so hopefully there will be a way that works for you:
You can join a zoom session and tell Donna and Julie what you think. These will be on Friday 22nd Jan at 2.30pm, Thursday 28th Jan at 6pm and Saturday 30th Jan at 2.30pm. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get the zoom link.
You can phone us on 0121 474 5900 and speak to Wendy who will take down your answers for you.
We also ask that you share this with people that you know. You could hold a zoom session of people you work with or know and send us their answers or help someone who may find it difficult to respond to get their views heard. Through the diverse network of people who are part of SCF we are hoping to hear from a wide range of people, but we need your help with this.
We would be grateful if you could please complete the survey or send us your thoughts by the 28th February 2021. If you are unable to do this before then, please get in touch at email@example.com.