Guest blogger Alice Maynard, Chair of the NICE guideline committee, discusses new NICE guidance which looks at people’s experiences of social care.

Social care is very personal. People have their own care needs and we must understand those needs to ensure people receive the best possible care, delivered in the way and at a time when they need it. Care must be tailored, personalised and most importantly be centred on the person who’s accessing it, otherwise, how can you actually give someone a positive experience? This is why, as a part of my role on the guideline committee at the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), we’ve developed a new piece of guidance which looks at people’s experiences of social care and recommends that adults who need social care should be able to shape the care they receive so it fits around them and enables them to be the person they want to be.

It’s hugely important that people have a say in their own care. Everyone is unique, we all have things we like or dislike and having our preferences respected, understood and met is what truly makes the difference when we receive care. This was a key element of the guidance. It fundamentally recommends that people accessing social care services are treated with dignity, as human beings who have their own history and experience that shapes who they are. Professionals assessing people’s needs must look at the person’s history, recognise their preferences and really understand how these can be factored in to the care they receive. When we developed this guidance we had a clear aim – to help improve people’s experiences of social care. Being a person who uses social care myself, I know how it feels to be on the receiving end. Often, it’s people who don’t receive care who make decisions on social care frameworks, processes and protocols, yet they may not understand the impact of their decisions. It can be very challenging as a social care user to know what standard of care you should be expecting. Should you let someone treat you a certain way which you might not think is right? Or can you say “please can you do it this way?”

To make sure people are cared for properly, health and social care must work effectively together. But there are so many challenges the system is facing. Between 2010-2013 we saw Local Authorities’ total spending fall by 8% and this is projected to continue falling. Just last year, The Health Foundation found that by 2030/2031 there will be a funding gap of £9.2bn for adult social care, a total of 40% of the projected budget. Bearing this in mind, bringing these two systems together is now more important than ever before. Ultimately, working together will mean those people accessing services receive the best quality care regardless of where that care comes from. The guidance encourages social care practitioners to consider how the processes they use for assessing people’s needs and planning and delivering care can be tailored to individuals.

The committee worked carefully to find and examine the evidence, ensuring our recommendations were fair, honest and focused on actually improving people’s experience.

We wanted to make sure that people’s thoughts, views and opinions are heard so they can shape the care they receive. It’s really important that those involved in social care services listen to people’s views. I’m just hopeful that, by using our guidance those providing social care services will be able to make a real difference to people and ensure their experience of receiving care is a positive one.

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