Reimagining Care… what next?


Dr Anna Dixon MBE, chair of the Commission, reflects on the launch of the Reimagining Care report and sets out its ongoing work.
Nook House

In the three months since we published the report ‘Care and Support Reimagined: a National Care Covenant for England’, I have been encouraged by the response from the Church of England, the social care sector, and the wider public. Whilst the formal work of the Commission has concluded with the report’s publication, the work of reimagining care continues as we seek a society in which everyone, regardless of age or ability, is enabled to flourish. In particular, I have been pleased to work with colleagues - not only to disseminate and discuss the report but to also embed the recommendations and find partners and routes to implementation. In this update I wanted to share with you some of that activity and how the seeds we planted through the Commission are starting to germinate.

The Commission’s report

A quick reminder of the key messages of our report. We outlined three big ideas that we believe would transform adult social care:

  1. Rethink attitudes to care and support
  2. Rebalance role and responsibilities
  3. Redesign the system

All of this is underpinned by our call for the development of a National Care Covenant. We recognise that the task of fixing a fundamentally broken social care system does not fall to government alone, but requires everyone to play their part. Our proposed National Care Covenant would be the fairest and most effective way of setting out the mutual responsibilities of everyone. We believe that the Covenant should be overseen by national government through a sustained programme of dialogue and engagement with people who are most affected by care and support – people who draw on care and support, unpaid carers, care workers, community groups – to set out a simple and clear understanding about what we can each expect and what is expected of us. We believe that the Covenant should reflect more investment in communities, more practical, emotional and financial support for unpaid carers, a stronger role for the state, and a renewed commitment to our responsibilities as actively engaged citizens. You can read more about our three big ideas and suggested actions in our final report.

Reflecting on the Commission’s report launch

We were delighted to have more than 150 people – including people who draw on care and support, politicians, chief executives and representatives from a number of major faith groups – attend the report launch of the Reimagining Care Commission at Friends House.

Along with speeches from Archbishop Justin and Archbishop Stephen, we heard from a panel consisting of Baroness Andrews OBE, Chair of the House of Lords’ Select Committee on Adult Social Care; the Revd Adam Edwards, Acting Chief Executive, Church Urban Fund; Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy, Disability Rights UK; Emily Holzhausen OBE, Director of Policy & Public Affairs, Carers UK; and Sarah McClinton, President of ADASS, about what our vision of reimagined care would mean in their sectors.

Most memorably, we heard a fantastic set of reflections from our friends at Livability, with members of their Changes for the Future Forum telling us how good care and support enables them to do the things they most enjoy. We are enormously grateful to Tom, Debbie, Sharon, and Michelle for sharing their reflections with such honesty and joy.

Parliamentary engagement and activity

Adult social care has remained heavily in the news since the Reimagining Care report was published. At a time when we need reimagining and radical action, the latest announcement from Government lacks the necessary ambition. While there are commitments to continue the work to collect better data and support innovation, and some actions on professionalisation of the workforce, the Government appears to have dodged the issue of workforce pay and shortages and there was little in there to reassure unpaid carers. While they announced a new Older People’s Housing Taskforce much of the funding for housing innovation has gone.

Bishop James Newcome, who served as Co-Chair of the Commission, and I had the opportunity to meet with the Minister for Care, Helen Whately, and the Shadow Minister, Liz Kendall, around the launch, and look forward to engaging further with them both and their teams in coming months.

The Commission’s work has been referenced in Parliament on a number of occasions, including in a House of Lords debate sponsored by Baroness Andrews - which included the Reimagining Care Commission report in the title alongside ‘A gloriously ordinary life’, the House of Lords’ Adult Social Care Committee Report. Archbishop Justin spoke about the importance of interdependence at the heart of care and support, recognising our fundamental need for one another in order to flourish, whilst Bishop James spoke about the National Care Covenant and its focus on empowering communities, recognising the value of unpaid carers, offering a universal entitlement to care and support, and an acceptance of our responsibility as actively engaged citizens.

Webinars, events and trips

The report launch event in January was not the only opportunity to engage with the new report and discuss its findings. We held a number of events in partnership with our friends from Social Care Future and Think Local Act Personal, as well as participating in panel discussions with events chaired by the Local Government Association and Housing LIN:

In February 2023, Bishop James visited the Diocese of Brisbane in Australia to find out more about the work of Anglicare, which is the social outreach arm of the Anglican Church in Australia. Bishop James noted that Anglicare’s person-centred ethos contains within it an emphasis on mutual accountability and commitment to each other, which chimes closely with the Commission’s work and values.

I have also been pleased to have the opportunity to work with ADASS to set out a practical roadmap of actions which will help move us toward our shared vision.

Designing resources

Conversations continue with partners from the Commission’s work about taking forward its recommendations and designing resources for church communities to bring to life the values outlined in the report. If you have any suggestions about this process or would like to get more involved, please do contact us at [email protected].