A comprehensive report which highlights important changes needed for the social care sector has been published by legal firm Addleshaw Goddard, with input from a wide range of operators, owners, funders and investors.
The Social Care Conundrum pinpoints the challenges faced by service-users, providers and government.
Developing a truly patient-led approach at the centre of how the health and social care system is designed, is something that has been championed by industry leaders and political players for decades.
While this should remain intrinsic to the delivery of services, the report underlines how achieving this goal has proved challenging due to the complexity of funding decisions and the often conflicted positions of those involved in making such decisions at both national and regional levels.
The contributing voices to the report echoed that social care has been viewed as a lesser priority for government than frontline healthcare as social carers continue to go unrecognised as key workers, nursing staff are paid less in care homes than in hospitals and public spending on social care is allocated through local authorities, many of which are struggling financially.
The report concludes that this approach is a fundamental factor in the weaknesses of the social care sector and there is now broad recognition that this needs to be addressed as a priority.
Tom Speirs, partner and head of social care at Addleshaw Goddard, said: ‘Undeniably, the health and social care sector has come under momentous pressure as we continue to live through the Covid-19 pandemic; but there was a significant strain on the industry prior to this in terms of resources, funding opportunities and government policy implementation.
‘The pandemic has magnified how fragmented the market is across the UK and it has highlighted the critical change that needs to take place in order to provide high-quality, individualised care.
‘Now that a number of bespoke funds have been established over the last 12 months specifically to enhance the delivery of supported living, care homes, nurseries and retirement villages, we must use such resources to ensure that the sector is strengthened.’
The report also highlighted that investors are opting to fund new developments and refurbishments in locations offering higher local authority fees.
Tom Speirs said: ‘At Addleshaw Goddard, what we are starting to note is the increased appetite from aggregators and developers looking to add social care service providers to their portfolios.
‘There is a huge scope for development opportunities as the span of assets available in the sector provides a strong mix of medium to long-term stable income and while it is highly regulated, investors see this as an advantage.
‘Investors are attracted by the combination of capital value in property portfolio ownership alongside strong, long-term incomes supported by funding from both private and public sector streams.
‘Due to the way social care is funded by government, local authority fees vary significantly which means that investors are generally opting to fund new developments and refurbishments in locations offering higher local authority fees, as well as where there is a concentration of older, more affluent residents likely to self-fund privately.’
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