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Post-Brexit - The Care Crisis Will Only Get Worse

I hesitate to add to the outpourings since the Brexit vote. The consequences of political and economic turmoil are already clear to see.

I hesitate to add to the outpourings since the Brexit vote. The consequences of political and economic turmoil are already clear to see.

What has been less discussed are the implications for care, both eldercare and childcare. Drilling down, what will Brexit mean for care in this country?

First of all, uncertainty is never good and makes it difficult to plan.

For example, massive changes are afoot in childcare - from the extension of free childcare for three and four year olds to thirty hours a week to the long-awaited implementation of childcare tax breaks.

Will these changes go ahead as originally planned or will the new post-referendum world force more delays or backtracking? There must be doubts given the economic shocks whether these childcare promises can be delivered in full.

Secondly, where funding is already tight such as the funding of care for adults, then it will get tighter.

The care crisis will only get worse as the economy buckles. The consequences for older and disabled people and their families are frightening. Not only will they face squeezes on their own budgets as prices go up and jobs are lost, but they will be left to cope on their own and expected to pay for their care, provide it themselves or struggle without.

The knock-on effects will increase demand for NHS services, particularly hard-pressed hospital care when services are cut in local communities and older people in particular have nowhere else to turn. The NHS crisis will increase pressure on staff.

Thirdly, before the referendum, many warned about a staffing crisis in care and health, with many workers currently coming to work in the UK from overseas. Clearly nothing will change overnight except...except we now live in a country where some people think the Brexit result has given them the licence to be abusive and racist. This inevitably will make some workers seriously consider whether they want to work in the UK and it will deter others from making the move here. But there is already a staffing crisis - for example, many nursing homes cannot recruit the qualified nurses they need and incur large agency bills or tolerate potentially unsafe practices.

Fourthly, many independent care providers have long been warning that their businesses are not viable, with the prospect of care homes being forced to close. That hasn't happened so far, as businesses struggle on, but the likelihood of homes closing and home care agencies shutting down must have significantly increased.

So is there a silver lining in the care crisis? We do know that necessity is the mother of invention and creativity needs to come to the fore. Can we make the money go further? Can we deliver care in new, more effective ways? Or will we see radical new policies for new times following the election of new party leaders?

My blog will examine the alternatives in the coming months. We simply have no choice but to think and do things differently. The growing number of families who rely on care services, now and in the future, need us all to be creative, compassionate and constructive.

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