December 20, 2019

With regard to social care … do you see yourself as a social reformer? Do you try to reach large audiences with your messages through various mediums? Do you see story telling as a powerful tool to get those messages across? Do you believe in a social contract, a bond amongst all people? Do you consider the government, communities, individuals or a combination are ultimately responsible for caring for people? Do you think kindness and gentleness have an important role to play? Do you see money and jobs as both insulating and isolating? Do you recognise these questions? Yes, no, maybe!

These questions are not new, and in some respects, regardless of your answers and those of everyone else it could be argued that too little has changed in the last 176 years. An odd number you may say, but on December 19th it will be 176 years since ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens was published. These opening questions all relate to Dickens, his view of societal ills and his approach to highlighting and addressing them.

The Plot in Brief

A Christmas Carol recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. Fearful and saddened from what he has seen and the impact of his role within it, he pledges to transform into a kinder, gentler man and thereby help create a kinder, gentler more positive society for all.

Twenty plus years ago the Ghost of Christmas Past would probably have shown social care concerned with supporting people in the community not institutions; a recognition of deficiencies in social care funding. Would it also show many years of attempts to rationalise services, improve collaboration and partnership working between social care and health?

Today, the Ghost of Christmas Present would no doubt highlight the state significantly pulling back from its contract of ‘achieving social security’ through cooperation with the individual, thereby leaving too many people left to cope alone with unmet needs. A 4.9% reduction in social care funding over the last ten years; still no agreement on how to reform the system despite twelve green and white papers and five independent commissions; an ever-increasing number of food, clothing, baby and hygiene banks and people without homes. Oh, and lots of words…

So, what would the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come display for social care? Would it be politicians, management, workforces of all descriptions and people ringing the death knell of social care and blaming each other. Would it be the poor getting poorer, the sick getting sicker, people trapped in a spiral of poverty, a widening gulf between those with much and those with little.

Or would the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come present £12.2bn investment in social care to meet demand, increased pay and plentiful availability of care that is easy to find and manage? A reformed funding system? Personalisation a reality with people in control of their spend whilst Councils have new confidence because of 100% visibility through real-time balances? People having a genuine choice regarding their care and support, how it’s funded and who they want to manage various parts of it? Information and support working around people and their support networks rather than wrapped up in bureaucratic organisations? Self-assessment and coproduction as the default? Social Workers spending more time with people than form filling? Vibrant and diverse micro-provider markets with key infrastructure to achieve unprecedented growth? Trusted Experts by Experience community organisers developing their own new support services? Are people having a clear understanding of the social care system and a handy map to navigate it? Or not!

Just as Scrooge finally recognised, we too must acknowledge a kinder, fairer more positive society is only possible through each of us taking responsibility to drive real transformation forward. And to do this from an informed rather than ignorant perspective thereby heeding the warning from Dicken’s character ‘Ignorance’ in which “Ignorance is doom unless it is erased”.

In making our new year’s resolution let us consider how we can dispel ignorance at every opportunity; be the social reformers, we aspire to be; commit to highlight the facts; use different mediums to get our messages across and strengthening the social contract with and between people. And contacting Younifi to support your transformation to making social care of Christmases Yet To Come a better place. Just as Scrooge did, make the change now and create a brighter future.

Have a happy Christmas and a great Younified New Year.