The Church of England has created a new ‘Reimaging Care’ commission to consider the future of ageing and disability. RedQuadrant’s Amber Griffiths summarises the report:
Full report published: see it here.
Some information from the summarised version of the report:
This is a new commission to change the future of social care. It is a clear Christian vision, calling to rethink attitudes towards aging and disability within every aspect of our society and its aim is to give every person equal dignity, regardless of capacity. The offered vision requires an essential change of priorities and direction. The main changes proposed to the social care system is the long-term aim to make social care a universal entitlement. The commission shows a vision of one-another care, showing we should have a better sense of what we should do for each other in communities and neighbourhoods, find agreements about where different responsibilities lie, and build long-term networks and associations that will allow people to thrive. The development of a National Care Covenant, proposed by the commission, is the beginning of a wider process to make this vision a reality.
Our vision of care and support in England is that:
- Care and support enables people to flourish and live life to the full;
- Access to and funding of care and support is universal and fair;
- How we care for one another reflects loving kindness and empathy;
- Society, including churches, are inclusive of all people, of all ages and abilities; and
- How care and support are delivered promotes mutuality and is based on trust.
All the evidence we received – written as well as verbal – suggested the need for a fundamental shift in the way in which ‘care’ is viewed. A greater public acknowledgement is required of the varied ways in which we all need and give care and support at different times in our lives, and a realisation that care is about mutuality rather than dependence. In other words, the language needs to shift from ‘them’ to ‘us’. People need to be viewed as having agency rather than seen as objects of pity. We must also value those who provide care, paid and unpaid.
But these shifts in attitudes to care have to go hand in hand with a challenge to current negative attitudes towards old age, disability, and mental illness. This should involve a cross-party coalition getting behind a large-scale, long-term public campaign to change hearts and minds with church and other faith leaders playing their part.
Rebalancing roles and responsibilities:
- A greater role for and investment in communities to provide universal support and enable participation and inclusion: Many communities (including faith communities) already provide valuable support and care for older and disabled people. Thriving communities are built on mutuality and reciprocity. However, this needs both investment and nurture, especially by local authorities, if it is to be universal and address inequalities. Local government also plays an important role in promoting inclusion and access to transport, housing, and community infrastructure. Local churches and faith communities need to be equipped with the training and resources to provide effective community-based support in partnership with others and in ways that empower people.
- A new deal for unpaid carers giving them practical, financial and emotional support: It is important that unpaid carers can freely enter into caring relationships out of love, not necessity. They need to be better valued and supported, with adequate recognition, rest, and recompense (together with paid or unpaid leave and flexible working arrangements for those who combine caring with paid employment). Nobody should automatically assume the availability of unpaid care, which for many is not an option.
- A stronger role for the state in guaranteeing universal access, providing protection against the costs of care, and defining a framework of entitlements and rights: National government should set out a long-term commitment to introduce a universal entitlement to care and support (on a par with the NHS). Everyone should be able to lead a good life by accessing care and support when they need it regardless of wealth and income. This will require a means of collective funding and pooling of risk, probably with a tariff of care charges established on a national basis. National government will also need to put in place stronger mechanisms to ensure existing legal rights and entitlements are upheld.
- Accepting our mutual responsibility as active citizens: Social care is everybody’s business. We all have a role to play and must contribute (where we can). This means as citizens, being willing to contribute funding through taxation so that everyone, regardless of income and wealth, can get care and support. It means as members of a community, giving time and looking out for others, from small acts of kindness to volunteering more regularly in community support groups. When we or those we love need care and support, it means engaging proactively to shape the care we need and to use budgets wisely.
Redesigning the system:
Piecemeal tinkering with the existing system will not produce the desired result. We need a radical redesign of the system to make it simple, consistent and person-centred.
Early intervention will be delivered through a universal offer of first contact help in the community. Assessments will be simplified, and a budget allocated based on standardised categories of disability as in Germany and Australia. People will have the freedom to shape their care and support and be trusted to manage their budget (or decide who will manage it on their behalf), supported by independent advocacy.
Local authorities will continue to play a role in shaping the services available in an area, particularly where there are gaps. In addition, the challenge of suitable housing needs to be tackled – not least by the Church of England, which could do more (as the Housing Commission has observed) to use its assets and investments to support integrated, community-based housing options. The potential of person-centred assistive technologies to support people in their own homes also needs further exploration and investment.
We urgently need a new approach to care which includes a long-term plan for the recruitment and retention of paid carers as well as the redesign of roles. Their skill and contribution to people’s lives must be valued and given recognition so that social care is regarded as a rewarding career. This has to be accompanied by improved pay, conditions, and training. Recruitment should be based on values and attitudes as well as qualifications and experience.
Values are the foundation of this new vision for care and support in England. If realised we believe it will transform the lives of all of us, as we share in the benefits of a society where everyone, regardless of age and ability, is able to live a full life. We are not apologetic for the idealism reflected here. But nor are we naïve. We recognise that implementing this vision has costs, that it cannot be the work of government alone, nor will it be achieved in one parliament. It therefore requires a broad coalition, including the Church and leaders of other faiths, to commit to work over the long-term towards this shared vision and make the moral case for change. There remains an urgent need for action to begin immediately.
For further information see the summarised version of the report: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2023-01/Care%20and%20Support%20Reimagined%20A%20National%20Care%20Covenant%20for%20England%20%28Summary%29.pdf
Some other links: