Social care: what’s in a name?

Katie Mantell at the King’s Fund – Social care is all around us. More than 1.5 million people in England are employed to provide social care to older and disabled people. And these numbers are dwarfed by almost 6 million unpaid carers – family members and friends who give up their time to help with a range of tasks, from cooking to personal care.

But despite this, ‘social care’ is a phrase you don’t hear much in everyday life. Last year, when my 94-year-old grandmother’s health was deteriorating and she needed support with washing, getting in and out of bed and other day-to-day tasks, I remember noticing that no one in my family used the term social care. Instead, the talk during this difficult time was about ‘speaking to the council to get someone in to help Gran’, and ‘finding a carer who will come around to the house’.

So why don’t we use the term social care very much outside of professional circles and the media? And does it matter if we don’t?

There are a couple of reasons why it doesn’t trip off most people’s tongues. First, it is an umbrella term that includes a broad range of activities associated with the tasks of everyday living, and can be replaced with more specific terms such as ‘going into a care home’ or ‘home help’.

Care Guide

Second, social care doesn’t have the recognisable brand that the NHS does, and research suggests that it isn’t widely understood. A survey carried out by Britain Thinks for Age UK in 2015 showed that many members of the public ‘have never heard of social care… do not understand what it is, what aspects of care it covers, how to access it or how, if at all, the social care system aligns with the NHS’.

Other research also hints at a lack of awareness of social care. In surveys such as those by Ipsos MORI and in the British Social Attitudes survey, when people are asked whether health and care services have improved or about their overall satisfaction with services, the percentage who answer ‘don’t know’ is much higher for questions about social care services than for those about general practice or hospital care.

As my colleague and social care policy expert Richard Humphries reflected at the end of last year: ‘A troubled NHS easily commands public attention through visual images of overflowing hospitals and queuing ambulances. But when the social care system is “full”, few notice, the consequences scattered silently and invisibly across thousands of homes and families. It makes little noise on the radar of political and public concern.’

In recent months, social care has risen up the political agenda. The crisis in social care – and the injection of funds for social care in the Spring Budget plus the promise of a Green Paper – has given the issue more prominence in national debate. And it seems likely that social care will feature prominently in the general election campaign over the coming weeks.

But it would be easy to assume, from reading news stories alone, that social care was just about older people and hospital discharges. In reality, of course, it is much, much more than that, covering a range of activities to enable people of all ages, with a range of needs, to live their lives to the fullest.

It’s not just the public who have a limited knowledge of social care. I’m struck by how many of us working within health have a quite basic understanding.

Last year, our fellow in social care policy, Patrick Hall, gave an overview of social care in a seminar for staff from The King’s Fund. We all learnt a lot, and the seed of an idea emerged: could we produce some content for professionals, patients, service users and others that would simply explain what social care is and how it works? After all, making sense of a complex policy environment is one of our organisational goals.

Inspired by some really creative examples, we decided to shoot some short videos as the centrepiece of a package of content explaining social care. As much social care happens in people’s homes it felt right to set our videos outside the office environment, and we decided on a kitchen – often central to a home and the place where things are organised and discussed, where food is prepared and cups of tea drunk. We tasked Patrick with using these surroundings to explain, in his own way, what social care is.

Naidex 2017 – Visiting the Show

Naidex attracts over 12,000 like-minded, forward-thinking visitors from all over the world and is the only event which brings traders, consumers, and health professionals to one venue to find the most comprehensive supply of opportunities, cutting edge products, services, and education specifically designed for the population with a disability or impairment.

Attendance is essential for anyone working in the independent living industry, caring for or living with someone who is disabled, or is indeed disabled themselves.

The event is at the forefront of innovation and as the industry continues to evolve, accessing the latest tools, technology, and opportunities has never been more important… or easier.

Naidex

Taking place in HALL 6 at the NEC, Birmingham. The show is open from 10am to 5pm on Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th, and from 10am to 4pm on Thursday 30th March 2017.

HOW TO GET THERE

By Car

The NEC is in the perfect location for car travel – 8 miles east of Birmingham city centre, and at the heart of the UK motorway network. In fact, 75% of the UK can get to the NEC within a 3 hour drive.

Postcode: B40 1NT

Car Parking Options

With 16,500 spaces available we’ve got plenty of room for you. Follow the electronic signage or directions provided by our traffic team to get you to the right car park area for your event. A parking fee of £12 per day applies, unless you are a Blue Badge holder. This is payable by cash or card.

Blue badge holders are not charged for parking. There are no allocated parking bays – please use Hall 16, then overflow to Hall 17 which is located by Atrium 4. Blue badge holders must display their badges in their car windows. Please note that The Piazza and Atrium main entrances have automatic doors and there will be additional user-friendly disabled services available.

By Train

The NEC is right next to Birmingham International rail station. You can get to any of our halls quickly and conveniently, without having to step outside!

The NEC entrance is on the right hand side as you exit the station, and is clearly signposted.

Many services run direct to Birmingham International. If yours doesn’t, you can catch a connecting train at Birmingham New Street. There are regular services, and the journey only takes 10-15 minutes. Buses to the NEC can be caught at Birmingham Moor Street and Solihull stations. For further information call National Rail enquiries on 08457 484950 or visit National Rail or Network West Midlands

By Bus & Coach

Coach services are operated by National Express and Megabus, with over 120 daily services from across the UK to Birmingham Airport. From here you can get to the NEC in minutes on the free air-rail link. Regular local buses depart from Birmingham City Centre. The 900 service runs every 15 mins during the day taking approximately 30 mins. The 97 service operates every 30 mins, 24hrs a day taking approximately 45 mins.

Local bus services also run every 30 mins throughout the day to Solihull (service 966) and Coventry (service 900).

Visit National Express or Megabus

By Taxi

ComCab black cabs are available at clearly marked ranks outside the NEC’s main entrances. They’re an easy and convenient way to get to your hotel and the city’s attractions around the NEC. And as one of our appointed suppliers, ComCab are committed to providing a reliable, good value service to enhance your NEC experience.

You can book ComCab taxis by phone on 0121 226 6666, or pick one up outside the NEC main entrance if available. Services are available by phone 24/7.

ComCab accept all major Credit Cards, subject to a minimum payment of £5 and a 10%+VAT processing fee.

Mobility Equipment Hire at the NEC

Wheelchairs are available free of charge for blue badge holders and £5 for all other visitors. The number of wheelchairs we have available is limited, so if you’ve got your own, please bring it with you.

Scooters are £15 per day for all visitors.

We strongly advise visitors to pre-book equipment to avoid disappointment. Bartrams (our mobility service partner) operate a telephone booking line Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm on 01353 653752.

Visitors can also book via Bartrams’ website. For any visitors who have not pre-booked equipment and arrive on the day, any remaining stock will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis. This is a non-refundable scheme. As Bartrams’ location varies from show to show, please check the collection point when making a booking.

Please note: Mobility equipment hire is only available during show open times.

Disabled Facilities at the NEC

Accessible toilets are available across the venue. A Changing Places toilet is also available in the Hall 20 Atrium area. It provides more space for up to 2 carers – and extra features to meet additional needs, including height adjustable adult-sized changing benches and a hoist system. For more details visit Changing Places

More information and maps can be found on the NEC website: www.thenec.co.uk/visiting-us/getting-here