A Labour government would bring together district nurses, care workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and other colleagues into one team under a ‘Home First’ policy for adult social care, the shadow minister for health and social care has said.
Speaking at the Health and Social Care Workforce: Wellbeing, integration and sustainability conference, Liz Kendall said that tackling workforce problems in the adult social care sector would be an incoming Labour government’s ‘immediate priority’.
Ms Kendal told an audience of health and social care leaders that the ‘main commitment’ made by Labour would be ‘a 10-year plan of investment and reform’ to put an end to the ‘last-minute sticking plaster approach’ to social care.
‘Our 10-year plan will enshrine a new principle of Home First. This means bringing together care workers, district nurses, physiotherapists, OTs and other staff into one team, so families don’t have to battle their way around the system.’
Home First, which is one of NHS England’s five key principles for reducing long stays, means that wherever possible patients should be supported to return home for assessment or intermediate care.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has previously pledged to double the number of district nurses qualifying every year.
If Labour should win the next election Ms Kendal also said that it would be the party’s priority to ‘put in place a new deal for care workers so we can recruit and retain the staff we need by ensuring fair pay, terms and conditions, and crucially, to improve training and career progression’.
Ms Kendal said this ‘new deal’ would be modelled on government-led pay agreements currently being trialled in New Zealand.
This would bring together employer and worker representatives to agree on minimum terms and conditions which would act as binding throughout the sector, she noted.
She claimed that these would ‘act as a floor to prevent exploitative employers from undercutting’.
Ms Kendal also claimed that the main issue in the social care sector was that ‘we haven’t made the argument that a properly functioning, decent social care system is vital to an economy’.
She stressed that in ‘modern Britain’, social care, as well as childcare, were ‘as much a part of the economic infrastructure as the roads and the railways’.