The Paradox of Social Care: Understanding the Contradictions

Providing Care
5 min read
Stephanie. DStephanie S

Last week, our CEO, Will Flint, had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion at the esteemed LaingBuisson Social Care Conference. The session shed light on the complex contradictions within the social care sector, helping providers navigate this changing market. In this blog post, we will delve into some of the contradictions that were discussed at the conference and offer initial thoughts on how to make sense of them.

1: Recruitment Improvements vs Workforce Shortage

During the conference, attendees agreed that recruitment within the social care sector has seen significant improvements. However, a striking statistic from the ADASS market report reveals that 9 out of 10 adult social services Directors in England believe a substantial increase in the workforce is required to meet the care needs of older and disabled individuals in their respective areas. This contradiction raises questions about the actual state of the social care workforce.

2. Available Capacity vs Delayed Discharges

Another puzzling paradox emerged when discussing capacity. While evidence suggests that capacity is available at the county and national level (with platforms like providing proof), the Home Care Association report indicated that 24% of delayed discharges are attributed to social care capacity issues. This contradiction calls into question the effective utilisation and visibility of existing capacity and the underlying factors contributing to delayed discharges.

3. Increased Demand vs Decreased Private Enquiries and Service Hours

The demand for public-funded care has steadily increased by 9% since 2015/16, reflecting the ageing population and growing waiting lists. However, attendees at the conference reported a decline in private enquiries, and the HCA report revealed that 54% of providers claim to be delivering fewer hours than the previous year. This discrepancy challenges the notion that increased demand translates into more service hours delivered by the regulated care sector.

Exploring Possible Explanations:

Whilst unpicking these contradictions requires further analysis and exploration, several initial thoughts were shared during the panel discussion. Here are a few key points to consider:

Cost of Living: AGE UK reports that 10% of individuals are cutting back on social care spending. The rising cost of living may influence people's ability to afford necessary care services, contributing to the decline in private enquiries.

Adjusting to Post-COVID Life: Society is adapting to life after the pandemic, with more individuals supporting their family members for longer durations. The rise in unpaid carers, estimated at 1.5 million in the UK, could potentially give rise to a more significant "micro provider" market (private care assistants) or lead to family members taking on caregiving responsibilities.

Cyclical Nature of Business: Like any other industry, the care sector is not immune to cyclical fluctuations. Economic factors and shifting market dynamics can impact the sector's stability, leading to variations in recruitment, service hours, and private enquiries.

The LaingBuisson Social Care Conference gave time for sector leaders to explore the intrigues of the social care market. There was consensus around the workforce and how to engage interest in the sector. An interesting line of thought was how the rise of AI could lead to a shift in the job market, seeing growth in those industries where human-to-human interaction is essential. Further research and collaboration are necessary to address these contradictions and find sustainable solutions for meeting the care needs of older and disabled individuals in our society.

Our CEO, Will Flint, expressed gratitude for being part of an exceptional panel that included Amrit Dhaliwal (Walfinch Care), Jane Ashcroft (Helping Hands), and Lucy Campbell (Right at Home). Dominique Kent (BlueCrest Wellness) expertly chaired the session with an insightful keynote speech coming from Jane Townson (Home Care Association), OBE, who paved the way for fruitful discussion on these crucial issues.