­The Future of Social Care

August 30, 2023

Ageing, social care, Social Work

Image Credit: Adobe Stock

Written by Peter Beresford, OBE, Visiting Professor, University of East Anglia and Co-Chair of Shaping Our Lives, UK and Colin Slasberg, Independent Researcher and Consultant in Social Care, UK

We’ve been gathering evidence about the state of social care for nearly a decade, publishing in peer-reviewed and professional journals as well as in mainstream media. What has continued to shock us has been the lack of reliable evidence in the field.

For example, as over the years, we have seen increasing recognition of the long term crisis facing social care in the UK, we have also seen numerous estimates of how much the shortfall is between need and provision from many of the key bodies involved, from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, to the Local Government Association, yet come to realise there is no firm basis for the figures they offer. We simply don’t know. The government does not collect data on unmet need. The best we have are the efforts of AgeUK which now suggests that many more than a million older people who should be receiving social care support do not – a shocking indictment of any Global North society.

It is not as though there isn’t official recognition that there is a massive problem here. Successive governments have acknowledged the failure of adult social care in England, but shown an endless unwillingness to take radical practical steps to address it. It isn’t as if this is a minority issues. For years experts, acknowledged by government and all major political parties, have warned that demographic changes mean that in the future, more and more older and disabled people will need social care support. That future is now here. Instead we have seen endless efforts to work around the problem which have generally only added to the difficulties and confusion. It seems that few policymakers want to face up to the critical need to reform health and social care and bring them into a new alignment fit for the realities of the twenty first century.

In The Future of Social Care, we have not only tried to chart why we have ended up in this awful situation, damaging so many lives and families, but also offered practical proposals for the kind of change that is needed to make the system work and how to achieve this. We’ve also tried to go a step further. Instead of seeing social care as a kind of crutch for devalued and stigmatized people – which for us is the only rationale the fits the reality of current policy – we highlight how social care can more appropriately be seen as an income generator for society, in line with all the values of sustainability and environmentalism that have come to be recognized in the face of global warming, and a way of addressing what’s been seen as the threat of artificial intelligence (AI), through advancing an economy based on looking after each other as a way of safeguarding our rights and needs, rather than stepping up production and consumerism, the present failed and destructive market-driven ‘solution’.

Happily the book is available open access and we hope that many readers will join us on our journey to develop a new user-led approach to human wellbeing based on valuing all of us, whatever difficulties we may be going through, rather than as a cost, perpetuating another burdensome policy.

The Future of Social Care is available to purchase now.

Peter Beresford, OBE, Visiting Professor, University of East Anglia and Co-Chair of Shaping Our Lives, UK and Colin Slasberg, Independent Researcher and Consultant in Social Care, UK

The title is is available as Open Access at Elgaronline.

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