The Health and Social Care White Paper: Summary of Key Points
White papers are policy documents produced by the government that outline their proposals for future legislation. They set out what steps the government plans to take and sometimes include a draft version of the new or updated legislation. White papers can be viewed by the public and are often accompanied by a consultation in which the document is discussed and changes can be made before the final draft is published.
If you work in health and social care, it is important that you are aware of the latest white paper and the plans in place to improve services in the future. In this article we will outline what the health and social care white paper is, summarise some of the key points, and discuss who the changes apply to, as well as how they might respond.
What is the Health and Social Care White Paper?
In 2021, the government published their 10-year vision for adult social care in England. This vision was laid out in the Health and Social Care White Paper and includes information on funded proposals and plans to make health and social care integrated for everyone across England.
The white paper contains information about the £5.4 billion that was invested into adult social care reform in 2021. It was confirmed that £1.7 billion of this investment is to be spent on major improvements across the adult social care system. These include:
- Housing and home adaptations.
- Technology and digitisation.
- Workforce training and wellbeing support.
- Improved information, advice and support for unpaid carers.
For those working in the health and social care sector, this means there will be changes occurring throughout to improve everyone’s experiences.
The white paper states:
Social care is at the heart of our communities, providing support to those who need it so that as many people as possible can live the life they want to lead. It matters to everybody, yet people’s experiences of social care – either those who draw on formal care and support, their families, unpaid carers or the social care workforce – can vary widely.
It’s well known that the sector faces, and has faced, some challenges and there are a number of changes that need to be made in order to improve services for everyone. The white paper aims to make these necessary changes and focuses on people and outcomes, not just the systems behind them.
Why 10 years?
If you work in health and social care or use care services, you are probably aware that the challenges faced by the sector cannot be fixed overnight. The 10-year plan allows the changes to take place and advancements to be made gradually, over months and years, and will also allow for engagement and feedback from those within the sector to have a say about the future.
Furthermore, by using a timeline of 10 years the government can engage with a range of organisations and people, including those that work for and use the services, to measure the success of their vision.
Key Points in the Health and Social Care White Paper
The government is committed to reforming adult social care across the whole of England, and the white paper sets out their long-term aspirations for how people will experience care and support.
In September 2021, the Prime Minister announced that no one will be forced to pay unlimited and unpredictable costs for their care. This lifetime cap means that, in England, no one will need to spend more than £86,000 on their care over their lifetime.
How much individuals pay for their care is not the only challenge currently facing the health and social care sector, which is why the government introduced their plan for reform.
The white paper has a main focus on three key objectives, these are:
- Supporting people to have the choice, control and support to live independent lives.
- Providing people with access to tailored and outstanding quality care and support.
- Ensuring that people find adult social care fair and accessible.
To achieve the three objectives, the government has identified the areas in which they can improve. The opportunities for improvement include:
- Rising to the challenge of increased demand on services.
- Shaping healthy and diverse social care markets.
- Addressing the variation in quality and safety of care.
- Supporting the adult social care workforce.
- Helping people to navigate the system and find the right care and support.
- Accelerating the adoption of technology.
- Expanding the choice of housing options available.
- Driving integration of health and care services.
Providing the right care, in the right place, at the right time
Care, support and treatment should meet the individuals needs and plan for any changing needs. This means:
- Giving people a choice over their housing arrangements.
- Using technology where possible to support people, such as through digital care records.
- Focusing on prevention and health promotion where possible.
- Increasing the supply of supported housing.
- Helping people to ensure their current home meets their needs.
Empower those who draw on care, unpaid carers and families
- Improving information and advice so it is accessible to all, with an emphasis on feedback.
- Empowering unpaid carers by identifying them, recognising their hard work and involving them.
- Supporting autistic people and people with a learning disability into employment.
Support the social care workforce
- Introducing a knowledge and skills framework for training the workforce, this will help to ensure workers are trained to the same high standard and develop their skills.
- Providing leadership development and tailored support for registered managers.
- Supporting workforce wellbeing and offering occupational health to relieve workers from burnout, trauma and mental illness.
Looking to learn more?
Our range of Health and Social Care Courses are designed to support those working in the sector whether you are experienced or are new to care. Courses include the Care Certificate, Safeguarding Adults and Person-Centred Care.
How to Respond to the Health and Social Care White Paper
If you work in the health and social care sector, you may be wondering how the white paper will affect you, the service users you care for and the organisation you work in. The white paper hopes to achieve improved outcomes for all and below are details of how different groups will be affected by the proposed changes.
The adult social care workforce is essential for high-quality care. Skills for Care found that organisations with lower turnover rates, lower vacancy rates and higher levels of staff undertaking learning and development were more likely to receive higher CQC ratings.
Therefore, service users should expect to see fewer changes in staff and more consistent high-quality care and treatment. This change will not happen overnight and may even take years, but the overall aim is to provide better quality care so service users can live well and independently. There will also be an emphasis on involving service users in their own care and decisions, as well as tailored care and support that focuses on their specific needs.
Health and Social Care Workers
The white paper laid out plans from the government to work with the adult social care sector to develop a universal knowledge and skills framework. This will build on the existing framework and include a clear pathway for career progression. Workers in the health and social care sector should expect to see the impact of government funding on targeting key skills gaps.
Another area that the white paper aims to change is staff turnover. Organisations should expect to see a lower staff turnover rate as employees will receive structured learning and development opportunities. This comes with the hope of making workers feel more valued and supported, therefore, more likely to remain in their role.
There will also be more support available to support staff that are experiencing burnout, trauma and mental illness. This comes with access to resources and occupational health to ensure staff members’ wellbeing is a priority.
The government anticipates that accredited Level 5 diplomas for both new and existing Registered Managers (RMs) who do not hold relevant formal qualifications, could improve the quality of care, attract new people into the role and reduce turnover.
New managers should expect to see learning and development opportunities, peer support, and mentoring. This aims to increase retention and improve the pipeline and supply of high-quality managers in the sector, thereby enabling wider quality improvements and innovation.
The government also plans to explore options to develop new pathways into the registered manager role further improving the supply of high-quality managers and leaders.
To prepare for the proposed changes, you should keep up to date with the latest government updates. The service you are involved with may already provide care and support in the ways outlined in the white paper; however large scale changes throughout the sector should further the standard of care being provided.
There is a long way to go before the plans laid out in the white paper become a reality. However, the steps that will be taken over the next few years will bring adult social care closer to reform and hopefully, lead to improved outcomes for all. If you work in health and social care, staying up to date with the latest news in the sector will help you prepare and know what to expect when it comes to the white paper.
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