After years’ of warnings the Government is finally waking up to the fact there’s a crisis in Adult Social Care. Let’s be clear what Adult Social Care is: it’s the support available for you and your loved ones as you get older or if, by some unfortunate incident, you’re no longer able to care for yourself. It’s important, it maintains the self-respect and independence of our senior citizens in old age, but beyond that without adequate care lives would quite literally be at risk.
Even now the Government understates the seriousness of the situation, we’re not ‘at’ the crisis point, we’re beyond it. Over recent years we’ve seen county council support cut back to only the most serious cases. This leaves families struggling and costs far more in the long-run than fixing issues at an early stage. Increasingly it also pushes care costs onto the NHS.
People who need care are best treated at home or, as needs increase, a nursing home and not a hospital. For those needing long-term care hospitals make problems worse and block beds designed for emergencies, with tragic consequences. If you want to save the NHS, the first step is resolving the crisis in care.
While central government cuts to budgets for care at a time of rising demand was always going to cause problems, West Sussex isn’t blameless. The council’s decision to stop running nursing homes has enabled the private sector to write their own cheques and opportunities to fix this problem, such as at Oakhurst Grange in Southgate, have been lost.
Ultimately, resolving our care crisis involves doing two things. The first is to develop a new funding model with the NHS, investing in early Adult Social Care interventions will save the NHS much more than it costs. The second is to implement a comprehensive public health strategy with local partners in order to fix potential health problems much earlier in life and improve people’s wellbeing throughout the whole of their lives.
The solutions to our current crisis are clear to see and achievable, all county needs is the will to do it.
Cllr Peter Lamb
Leader, Crawley Borough Council