Hft's Policy and Public Affairs Manager Billy Davis believes it is quite worrying that 43% of respondents say they've noticed a reduction in the quality of care that they're able to provide as care providers.
Sputnik: New research has revealed that the number of care providers cutting support for vulnerable adults has doubled in the last year because of financial pressures. Can you tell me more about the findings of this research and how it relates to Britain’s care industry?
Billy Davis: This research that we do is an annual survey of social care providers across the country. It provides a snapshot of their financial health and how they responded to the events of the past 12 months. One of the most damning findings from this year's survey is the fact that the number of care providers offering support to fewer people have more than doubled compared to last year. In our view, this is a direct result of what they said last year when they warned us that increasing numbers are handing back contracts to local authorities as a way of coping with the financial pressures that they're facing and really it's showing that the sector's running out of options. We've been saying for years that we're being underfunded by central government and that's now actually having a real impact on the staff and the people that we support because whilst demand is growing providers just can't afford to carry on supporting them on financially unsustainable contract.
Sputnik: What effect is it having on care providers, those working in the social care industry and receivers of care?
Billy Davis: In terms of the impact that it's having on providers; it was quite worrying that 43% of people that responded to our survey said that they've actually noticed a reduction in the quality of care that they're able to provide as a provider. Nobody gets into this sector to provide poor support to vulnerable adults, so really that's quite a worrying trend for us, the fact that actually we're seeing these reductions in care. That could be things like a decrease in staff morale; it could be sort of an increase in complaints from family members and people we support, all the way through to CQC actually giving worse accreditations. In terms of the impact on people; one of the subjects we touched on this year was mental health and we found that on average 16% of absenteeism across sector is due to poor mental health - some providers even with aside to say that 60% of their staff absenteeism was down to mental health. I think this is a result of people being forced to do more with less, providers being forced to make those difficult decisions; it's really having quite a negative impact on the mental health of the people that are employed by the sector. On the positive side, providers are being very proactive in dealing with this. 68% of providers have in-house mental health training; 33% have trained for Mental Health First Aider within their organisation; so we are taking positive steps to address those challenges but really we're starting to see that funding have quite a detrimental effect on the workforce.
Sputnik: It's clear that Britain is the midst of a social care crisis. It was something that was apparent before this winter's election - it was something which was hardly addressed - it's clear to see that we are in a bit of a predicament regarding social care. With that in mind, what solutions should the government be considering to centrally mitigate and protect individuals working in Britain's care industry and essentially work against this crisis.
Billy Davis: Like you say it wasn't mentioned in the in the last election but what was interesting is the election before that was defined by social care - it was the topic of the 2017 election. We were promised a green paper after that. Two to three years later we've still not seeing it. We think the government needs to bring forward those reforms as soon as possible really but what we as providers want to see is local authorities to actually get that funding that they've lost back from central government so that the sector can start to become properly funded. The providers can actually then sort of absorb the increases in the national living wage in a financially sustainable way. Invest in the future of our services and really provide that good quality care that the people we support deserve.
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