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It's time to fulfil the promise to:- 'fix social care'

CARE England, the largest and most diverse representative body for independent providers of adult social care, is calling on the new Prime Minister and her Cabinet to ensure that the Conservative manifesto promise to:- 'fix social care' is actualised under her leadership and that immediate Government support is made available for the care sector considering the current cost of living crisis.

Professor Martin Green OBE, Chief Executive of Care England, says:- "The adult social care sector is under extreme pressure. Long standing workforce and funding issues have been exacerbated by the cost of living crisis, set to worsen in coming months. Care England has delivered a blueprint of immediate action to the new Government to start the re-stabilisation of the sector which current Government support packages have failed to do for energy, workforce, and funding. This is essential to prevent widespread market collapse and to help commence the journey towards a sustainable future for the sector given 45% of providers in the South East are considering exiting the market."

Care England has written to the Prime Minister and her new Cabinet to detail the issues facing the adult social care sector and outline some immediate solutions that would help reprimand ongoing pressures. Care England calls on the new Prime Minister to implement the following key asks as soon as possible:-

  The introduction of a per-bed energy price cap equivalent to the proposed domestic energy price cap or the reimbursement of providers for the increased energy costs incurred by other means.

  The extension of the £400 energy rebate to vulnerable people in care and supported housing, introducing parity in the way they are treated compared with those living in their own homes.

  The removal of VAT and the Green Levy on energy bills.

  Zero rate VAT with immediate effect to inject £350m directly to the frontline.

  Directing a greater share of the money generated through the Health and Social Care Levy towards the adult social care sector.

  Implement the recommendations of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee report and commit to addressing existing inequalities through increased funding to the adult social care sector.

  To address the concerns raised in the Health and Social Care Committee's recent reports at pace.

  To commit to a long term workforce strategy for adult social care which aligns pay and benefits with the NHS and local authority run services.

  To remove with immediate effect the charges made by the Home Office and for the full reimbursement of recruitment costs by providers for overseas recruitment.

Wider measures have also been suggested. On 30 August, Corin Dalby, founder and CEO of Box Power, urged Ministers to:- "consider reducing the country's voltage supplies as that could reduce the energy going through the system as well as shave significant amounts of money off people's bills." This has the potential to achieve a:- 5% to 7% saving in energy costs and represents a potential instant solution to current energy pressures.

Further, Care England reported that more control needs to be exerted over the National Grid and its unnecessary burning of coal when exporting electricity to France, which increased profits over the summer for National Grid and VAT to the Treasury, at the cost to the UK consumer who could have seen electricity bills reduced by up to 63% this summer instead.

Martin Green continues:- "It is time that the Conservative manifesto promise to:- 'fix social care' is taken seriously and finally actualised under this new leadership. Providers are still recovering from the effects of the Covid19 Pandemic, and against the backdrop of the cost of living crisis, chronic underfunding, and the absence of a long term workforce strategy, these will culminate to be the straw the breaks the camel's back. Adult social care can only survive with the necessary support from central Government, without which it will face total collapse. We are continuing to find opportunities for the Government to take advantage of, yet little has been acted on. Change is needed, and it is needed now, to protect some of the most vulnerable members of society."

Managing Your Mental Health Around the Cost of Living Crisis

THE Cost of Living (COL) Crisis is yet another in a series of existential crises we have experienced as a nation, including:- Brexit, Covid19, and the war in Ukraine, and each 1 of these events can have a multiplying effect psychologically. Any 1 of them would be enough to create significant stress responses, but all of them following on from each other amplifies the stress of the previous crisis. They all share a similarity in being events that as individuals we have little impact over and cannot control, which make them more difficult to process emotionally. Here psychotherapist Noel McDermott offers tips and advice on looking after your mental health in yet another stressful time.

The key to helping yourself psychologically is to recognise that there is little you can do about the events so your focus needs to come to what you can have an influence over, which is generally yourself and your immediate family.

Noel comments:- "1 of the key psychological tricks available during times of existential fear is to shift your focus from the events and the future and focus more on what is called the here and now. It's evidenced through both mind fullness and also cognitive behavioural therapy to help in reducing stress responses. Bringing your mind to focus on how you are experiencing this moment more will make you notice if you are stressed; elevated heartbeat, racing thoughts, tight muscles, dry mouth, shallow breathing, sweaty palms, and with that awareness work to reduce your stress reactions. This can be done learning relaxation methods, regulating breathing, and managing thinking processes by say focusing on your breathing. Other significant ways we can manage fear and anxiety is by understanding how it impacts on our psychological functioning. In general, there are 3 main ways we respond to existential threat:- fight, flight, or freeze. During times like this we may not recognise that we are doing any 1 of these behaviourally and psychologically as we are not in fact confronted by a tiger trying to eat us. These responses might manifest in a number of ways; we might find we get angry more often, or our heads are filled with angry thoughts, we may stay home more than usual or not go to events, we may find it difficult to make decisions. All of these can be signs we are scared and need to feel safe. The key is to find a way to create emotional safety, remembering we can't change the COL, but we can create a safe emotional space for ourselves through increased self care, help seeking (talking to and asking for cuddles from) loved ones and friends. Also challenge the signals that flight fight and freeze create telling yourself that in this moment it's possible to be safe emotionally."

The Do's to Improve Your Wellbeing:-

  Regular exercise.

  Stay hydrated.

  Eat healthily.

  Sleep and rest properly.

  Get lots of hugs and lots of me time.

  Remember health and healthy routines are the key to psychological wellbeing.

The Don'ts:-

  Make big life decisions.

  Drink alcohol or use drugs to cope.

  Run away from your problems.

  Listen to folk selling you simple solutions (financial or otherwise)

Noel added:- "Flip the narrative about problems piling up over the years and tell yourself you have learned real skills on how to manage psychologically and emotionally. We have all learned so much about how to stay well during troubled times over the last few years. Pull out those lists of healthy activities you made for the Pandemic, dust them off and use them now. Quite simply, doing things we enjoy helps boost both our mood and self esteem."

Healthy Activities for Improved Wellbeing:-

  Yoga, by stretching our bodies we also help calm our minds; invest in valuable you time!

  Gardening or going out for a walk - connecting to nature can improve our mood dramatically.

  Escape into a new book or TV series - this is a simple but effective way to escape into a safe new world.

  Music - create a playlist of feel good tunes, turn it up loud and let go!

  Reach out to friends and family, talk through your worries, and ask for advice; you won't be the only one feeling like this and a good laugh with your friends will help you feel more balanced and connected.

Noel continues:- "The big picture is we have been here before; we came out stronger and we will do it again. Reach out to others who may be worse off, try to stay connected to the 'herd' by acts of kindness as the herd is our best survival strategy. Do be compassionate to yourself as you struggle, feel fear, or overwhelm and have a narrative ready that tells you there is not something wrong with you for feeling this way. Don't try to be superhuman. Normalise your struggle as perversely it's a sign you are well. Use the stress signals as they are intended, useful information that you need to love yourself and love those around you."


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