ST HELENS Borough Council has backed calls for a “complete reset” of adult social care in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

A coalition of councils, health and care organisations and charities is pressuring the Government to publish its timetable for social care reform before Parliament returns from summer recess in September, one year after the Prime Minster first pledged to set out a clear plan to “fix social care”.

Led by the Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, the coalition said the legacy of the COVID-19 outbreak means a “radical rethink” is needed around the country’s approach to social care.

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They insisted that any such plan should take account of the long-held issues facing social care but also what has been learnt during the crisis.

Labour councillor Marlene Quinn, cabinet member for adult social care for St Helens Borough Council, has long argued for fair funding for the social care sector and has backed the LGA’s calls for a reset.

Cllr Quinn said: “This pandemic has brought the work of social care into sharp focus and it’s absolutely right that the tireless work of care workers has been recognised throughout these unprecedented times.

“Social care may impact on everyone’s life at some point, whether through accessing support for a loved one or needing support ourselves.

“So for a service that is likely to support us all it is absolutely vital that it is there when it is needed. As we are living longer and often with more complex needs, support needs to be flexible and change to help us remain independent for as long as possible.

“We all deserve the right to dignified care which means to provide that local councils need the right level of funding so that people can live comfortably.

“We back the Local Government Association’s call for a reset to social care that takes into account the urgent needs of our residents, provides people focused care while also supporting a dynamic workforce who are passionate about helping our families continue to make memories together.”

Prior to the pandemic, the LGA said adult social care services faced a funding gap of almost £4 billion by 2025.

Any extra funding the sector receives from the Government, it said, should not just consider the additional demands caused by COVID-19, but also meet the pre-existing pressures that were “pushing the system to breaking point”.

“For too long we have been promised a plan to fix the social care crisis but people who use and work in these vital services are still waiting,” said Cllr James Jamieson, chairman of the LGA.

“The COVID-19 crisis has proved that we need a complete reset, not a restart, when it comes to the future of social care.

“The pandemic has also served to highlight the incredibly valuable role of social care in its own right and why it is more important than ever before that we find a long-term and sustainable solution, so that people of all ages can live the life they want to lead.”

St Helens Star: The coronavirus pandemic has created further strains on an already-stretched social care sectorThe coronavirus pandemic has created further strains on an already-stretched social care sector

The LGA, together with 32 other organisations including the Alzheimer’s Society and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, have put forward a set of key principles it says must underpin reform of social care.

The seven principles cover vital aspects of every part of social care, including support and wellbeing, putting people first; the importance of social care’s local dimension; adequate and sustainable funding; supporting the care workforce; how care is provided and commissioned; health and integration and the scope of care and support reform.

Mr Jamieson said: “These seven principles, which have support from a number of prominent organisations across the health and care sector, need to inform and underpin the Government’s thinking on the future of adult social care in this country.

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“Everyone who has been involved in dealing with the dreadful effects of this disease, including older people, unpaid carers, the most vulnerable and those who support them, deserve to know that the lessons learned will be used in shaping the future.

“This should mean care and support is properly based around every individual, keeping them safe, well and as independent as possible, and in their own home and community for as long as possible.

“We urge the Government and other parties to begin cross-party talks on the future of adult social care, so we can get on with the job of realising our shared ambition of supporting people to live the lives they want to lead.”