Paul Lilley Governor of the NHS Torbay & South Devon Healthcare Trust (2016-2020) and Board Member of Friends Helping at Home, and chairs the “Friends of Friends” advisory board of care professionals

We’ve asked Paul to provide his insight into the Friends Helping at Home way of working that could be part of the bigger solution for adult social care:

A lot has been said over these past twelve months relating to our NHS and our social care sector.  Politicians, celebrities, and the public have been incredibly vocal about how important this is and to the very fabric of our society and in the words of Rishi Sunak “whatever it takes.”

So why is social care so badly broken?

Here’s where we have failed our aging population over the last quarter of a century!

In 1998 a Royal Commission was appointed to look at social care, great things were promised, and nothing materialised! Commendable aspirations without any new strategy for change.

Then, just over ten years later, Sir Andrew Dilnot’s report, commissioned by the government, on “Funding and support for our social care”, was published to a fanfare but again nothing happened!

No government has tackled this ticking time bomb and kicking the can down the road rather than addressing the core issues raised simply isn’t good enough anymore. It has become something of a  public disgrace!

Then this year, I think we all expected a major announcement by the chancellor in his budget.  This had been headlined, for the last twelve months, while care givers and nurses placed their lives on the line, but no mention whatsoever on social care in his budget address!

We all know that people, properly cared for in their own home, will result in improved physical and mental wellbeing. It is cost effective with fewer returns to hospital and provides dignity at a time when it is most needed.  For most of us, this is an absolute “no brainer.”

So why, if it is so obvious, can’t we sort it out?

Care homes continue to go out of business.

Our care givers are leaving this sector in their droves!

Vacancies in both the NHS and social care are at record levels.

Nothing in the budget about how to support and fund social care.

The typical domiciliary care setting doesn’t seem to value the vocation.  Most carers in the sector are earning a minimal wage with rushed visits that provide both the care-giver and care-user unnecessary  stress and a service that could be better for all concerned.

Now this is why we believe we have started that revolution at “Friends.”

We do more than say that we care passionately about care, we enable: every care-giver to earn significantly more, at least 40%+ above the minimum wage. Our customers have a choice and consistency having only the carers that have been introduced to them, and that they have chosen.

We were founded to provide exactly the care that we would want for ourselves or a loved one.

The way should be: the “Friends” model puts our carers and customers in control.

No doubt, the cynic in us will be thinking, this all sounds too good to be true?  Well, the proof of the pudding is in the eating: our retention rate of carer registered with us is over 90% and every customer has choice and continuity of care that’s flexible and responsive at a highly completive rate.

Of course we don’t pretend to have all the answers. But we do make a difference in our communities, the areas that cover South Devon, Exeter, Plymouth, Torbay and Teignbridge. These are  where we have successfully established our first four branches.

Governments of all hues, past and present, accept that the private sector can be part of the solution, and we are wanting to play our small part in helping to make social care something that we can all truly be proud of.

We invite others to join us in the revolution that we have started.