Launched in April 2021 by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, the Reimagining Care Commission was tasked with developing a radical and inspiring vision for adult social care in England, drawing on Christian theology, tradition and values. The Commission’s final report, published on 24 January 2023, calls for the development of a National Care Covenant as part of a roadmap towards care and support becoming a universal entitlement.
Through its Listening and Engagement Exercise, the Commission engaged with people who draw on care and support and their carers, visited church and community based support groups, independent living facilities and care homes. The Commission also engaged with organisations that advocate for disabled and older people, providers and commissioners of care and support, Department for Health and Social Care officials, parliamentarians, policy experts and academics. This work led to the publication of an interim paper in April 2022, which can be read here.
The Commission has identified three main areas that need to change in order to reimagine care and support:
- Rethink attitudes to care and support: care and support should not simply focus on meeting people’s basic needs, but rather enable everyone to flourish. We need to examine our attitudes as a society, valuing the gifts of all people regardless of their age or ability, and recognise that at different times in our lives almost all of us will either be caring for someone or being cared for by someone. The Commission is calling for more collaboration within social care, bringing together a broad coalition – including politicians, faith communities, charities, and user-led organisations – to make a positive case about how care and support can enable everyone to live a full life.
- Rebalance roles and responsibilities: the Commission is calling for the development of a National Care Covenant, to deal with the lack of clarity around care and support. The Covenant would set out clearly the mutual responsibilities of individuals, families, communities, and local and national government. The Covenant would be overseen at a national government level but would be developed through public dialogue and agreed by different stakeholders, based on mutuality and trust. Based on what we have heard, this should reflect a stronger role for the state, more practical, financial, and emotional support for carers, a greater emphasis on community-based support, and an understanding of our responsibilities as actively engaged citizens.
- Redesign the social care system: our long-term aspiration is that care and support should be a universal entitlement, available to anyone regardless of wealth or income. In order to achieve this, steps should be taken to increase the offer of first-contact help in the community, alongside a simplified social care assessment and budget allocation process, and more flexibility about how people manage their personal budgets. We also need a comprehensive plan for recruiting, retaining, and valuing social care workers.