We asked the candidates ...

Social care

What will you do to address the diminishing care home provision on the Island due to staff shortages?

Asked on:
May 26, 2024
Published on:
June 7, 2024

They answered ...

Emily Brothers : Labour Party
General website referral

Labour will create a National Care Service alongside our NHS and in partnership with Local Government. It won’t be a centralised body, but a different way of working. Reform will roll out over the next decade. A national framework, for example, would include stronger requirements on providers registering with the Care Quality Commission on financial strength, worker terms and conditions and quality of care.

The Tories have crashed the economy and adult social care is in crisis, so there is much to do with little headroom financially. Reform will be needed to improve pay and conditions immediately and to alleviate systemic problems in recruitment and retention.

Having an effective care system is essential for economic growth. In the way that childcare now strengthens family resilience and contributes to economic growth, the same can apply to adult social care.

Labour will:

  • Enable older and disabled people to live the life they choose in the way they choose;
  • Take a ‘home first’ approach that includes supported living options, housing adaptations and a greater use of technology to support independent living;
  • Hold a ‘relentless focus on reform’ that is more conducive to the needs of recipients of care and their families;
  • Tackle staff shortages in social care through the introduction of Labour’s new fair pay agreements, to be delivered within 100 days of a Labour government.

Public-funded social care is only available to people with the highest needs and lowest means, creating inequality and leaving people vulnerable to high care costs. Between 2015 and 2022 the current means-tested system resulted in a reduction of 4% of funded recipients, whilst there was an 11% increase in requests for support. Demand is set to continue as the population ages. Labour will be fiscally responsible by linking our reforms to economic growth.

Michael Lilley : Liberal Democrats
Referred to website post

Staff shortages are a key issue but it is lack of funding from Central Government  that is the biggest issue. IW Council recently offered local care providers an increase of 6% uplift when the care homes had to increase salaries by approximately 9% to retain staff.

  • The diminishing care home provision stems from the fact that the average 20 bed homes on the Island do not qualify for Social Care funding rates from the Local Authority. Without increased payments per social care funded resident, care homes will continue to close. As your MP, I will lobby the Government to recognise the national strain on care costs and fund correctly.
  • The Lib Dems National Policy is to ensure no one has to sell their home to pay for care by introducing free personal care, based on the model introduced by the Scottish Liberal Democrat-Labour government in 2002. Introduce a more generous means test and assistance for those unable to pay for their accommodation costs. Move towards a preventative approach to social care, so people can stay in their own homes for longer. Introduce a real living wage for care workers and invest in skills, professionalisation and accreditation of the workforce. Provide a package to support unpaid carers.
  • As Chair of the IW Policy and Health Scrutiny Committee I have continually raised the danger of destabilising the social care market by the IW Council and the need to work closer with Independent Care providers. The loss of local care homes would mean that our most vulnerable residents could be placed on the mainland at double the cost and an increased burden on their families here, and this is unacceptable. We have to have greater Island partnership working between the public, voluntary and private sectors.
https://michaellilley.uk/michaels-general-election-faqs/
Vix Lowthion : Green Party
Direct answer

Social care provision is broken, because it is not funded at a national level. Local government cuts have really put pressure on Adult Social Care provision – including respite, residential and care at home. For areas in the UK with a large elderly demographic – like the Isle of Wight – this burden can be an overwhelming part of the local budget (25% I believe). It is inefficient and unfair to rely on local councils to fund social care – a national system needs to be introduced.

In addition to this the rising costs of provision and the need to raise wages to the level of a Living Wage, plus general inflation levels, and the huge numbers of vacancies in the sector (thanks, Brexit) have led to the diminishing provision. 1.5 million people are employed in the social care sector – that is more than in the NHS. And yet social care is not widely discussed at schools or colleges as a viable career option. We won’t replace social care with AI or apps – we need caring humans to step forward. There needs to be a clearer career progression from school.

So it’s not as straightforward as to say “do this and it will be addressed”. Green Party members have passed policy to ensure that social care is publicly funded and on a par with the NHS. Need, not wealth should determine access. But this doesn’t solve the wider challenges when it comes to costs, wages, vacancies and skills. I firmly believe that the care sector needs to be promoted more at schools and seen as the vital industry it is. We realised during Covid that carers are key workers – we need to now invest more in the industry.

Answers to this question will be shown on the "Published on" date above.

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