Be prepared. It’s an old motto but a timely one.
The UK’s exit date from the EU has been extended whilst debate and discussions continue in Westminster and Brussels to resolve concerns around the current negotiated deal.
Given this continued uncertainty it makes it even more vital to step up preparations for our departure at both a national and local level.
Whatever the outcome, it remains a collective priority for those working in or with the care and support sector to make sure service continuity is maintained: the quality of life of millions of people depend on it.
It makes sense for care providers of all sizes to be asking themselves these three questions on a frequent basis:
- Are we fully prepared?
- Do we have contingency plans in place to manage disruption to supplies and services?
- Are we confident we can maintain service provision for a sustained period?
I know many care providers have already found planning a challenging exercise, not helped at times by some confusing messages in the media.
Mindful of this, in December 2018, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) published EU Exit Operational Readiness Guidance detailing action plans for commissioners and providers of adult social care services.
Jonathan Marron, DHSC’s Director General, Community and Social Care, followed this up recently with a supply chain letter to all care providers. Further updates on issues including maintaining supply chains (medicines, foods etc.), the recent date extension and other matters of specific concern to care providers have followed - and will continue to do so.
The Care Provider Alliance (CPA), which represents the 10 national professional associations of independent and voluntary sector adult social care providers in England, is working closely with DHSC on EU Exit planning.
Part of this involves a weekly survey of selected care providers drawn from our CPA memberships. It’s designed as a regular ‘temperature check’ of real-time intelligence from within the adult social care market.
The CPA’s work will complement similar activity by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) and the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Collectively, we will work to identify potential issues and concerns sooner allowing for timely and mitigating actions, keeping providers updated.
Not surprisingly, many care providers are concerned about:
- Workforce issues including recruitment, retention and the status of EU nationals.
- Supply issues including medicines as well as non-clinical goods and services especially food, equipment and maintenance.
- Funding and commissioning related to LA fees and payment schedules.
- Wider economic and political issues such as inflation, possible travel disruption and rising construction costs.
Arguably, these issues are challenges even without the impact of Brexit.
Planning, and effective communication sharing will be vital to ensure that support at a local, regional and national levels is available.
We urge all care providers to actively engage with their commissioners, establish what local plans have been put in place, and act on the information available.
What cannot be doubted is that our citizens’ quality of care depends on the preparations we make now. Let’s be prepared for any outcome so that we can continue to deliver the great care they need and deserve.
Des Kelly is currently acting as EU Exit Planning Lead for the CPA.
He is Chair of the Centre for Policy on Ageing and was Executive Director of the National Care Forum from 2003 to 2016.
He is also founder-Chair of the Care Provider Alliance.
Des was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours for services to social care in 2007.