The county council must work closely with independent care providers to meet the challenges facing social care and continue to improve choice for residents, Surrey’s new director of adult social care has said.
In her first keynote speech to Surrey’s care sector, Liz Bruce embraced the need for a new working relationship between the council and providers of residential, nursing and home-based care to help build for the future of social care including planning for the biggest care reforms in decades.
As well as preparing for the reforms – which are set to usher in a lifetime limit on care costs of £86,000 – the care sector in Surrey is operating in an “unprecedented” economic environment and dealing with recruitment pressures and the impact of Covid-19, Mrs Bruce said.
Addressing the Surrey Care Association’s autumn conference in Dorking, Mrs Bruce said new relationships and “new thinking” would enable the council and providers, along with their NHS partners, to move “together ahead”.
Forging a closer relationship would enable the partners to better shape services around the needs of residents and communities and enhance the choice of care and support options available.
Earlier this year, Mrs Bruce became Joint Executive Director of Adult Social Care and Integrated Commissioning working across Surrey County Council and Surrey Heartlands integrated care system.
She told the conference: “We need each other more now than ever. We’re stronger together and we’ve got more in common together – we mustn’t let people divide us. We’re far more powerful and influential to central government if we’re saying the same things.
“How we work together going forward is all based on relationships. We need to innovate together and to do that we’ve got to have a good relationship and have dialogue. None of us can do what we’re trying to do on our own so we need to come together and work in partnership. I’m optimistic we can do that.”
Areas where there are opportunities to work together include on shared issues such as workforce and training. A key focus for adult social care is supporting providers and residents with better information, advice and guidance to help the make informed life choices, especially when considering or requiring care.
The county council’s commissioning strategy for older people, covering the period until 2030 and drawing on input from providers and the NHS as well as residents and staff, aims to champion greater choice, quality and control for residents.
As well as supporting people to lead independent and active lives in their own homes and communities for as long as possible, the blueprint spells out how the council and partners will work together on ensuring intensive and personalised care options for people with more complex needs, in line with the council’s ambition to tackle inequalities in health so that no one in Surrey is left behind.
Mrs Bruce took up her new role in Surrey in May from the London boroughs of Richmond and Wandsworth where she was Director of Adult Social Care and Public Health. She has previously held senior positions at London’s tri-borough partnership – Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham and Kensington and Chelsea – and at Manchester City Council and Warwickshire County Council.