The context, as always, is essential. It was only recently that the Government announced a tax hike to support adult social care. Even rough analysis shows funds will not reach ASC teams for years. It's frustrated care providers: it will do little to help them in the medium term. This tax hike has again unearthed the desperate needs of the care system.
Nadra Ahmed of the National Care Association said, "This is a recovery plan for the NHS, and that is very obvious. The funding pot being talked about for social care is not sufficient to even address the issues of today. …". Moreover, Politico's London Playbook commented that "for the first three years the new money is focused on clearing the NHS coronavirus backlog, yet there are serious doubts that can be done on that timeline and fears more money will still be needed for the health service, potentially putting the social care funding under threat. Chris Smyth reports that new NHS chief exec Amanda Pritchard refused to sign off a commitment to treating 30% more patients by 2024-25. Instead, the Government had to announce only a 10% increase by 2023-24."
The pressures on the care system is an order of magnitude more significant than this tax raise can deal with. As the Guardian, and others, have noted, we need to 'fix a broken system.' Moreover, 'Cuts to local authorities' funding mean increasing numbers of people in England and Wales are no longer receiving care such as help with washing, dressing and eating, the report says. It estimates that 1.4 million older people do not get the support they need.'
The zeitgeist is aware of the crisis caused by tight budgets and growing vulnerability.
When Kevin McSorley, who is head of Radius and a TSA director, and I met a year ago, we bonded over the need for a more expansive system change in the care market. This is inspired by the tremendous proactive achievements in Catalonia. In short, a reactive care system is creaking under the weight of Covid and an ageing population. If someone needs support, waiting to intervene doesn't make the need go away. Instead, it increases the likelihood of deterioration and hospital admission. Reactive models, which are commonplace, are rarely transformational.
Today, technology in the most general sense is not widely used to understand wellbeing; traditional methods persist. However, Covid has halted face-to-face visits. And human phone calls are not scaleable. Other mediums, like apps or email, are digitally exclusive of the most vulnerable. As such, we as a care system do too little proactive outreach.
And so, we've been building a proactive model. Yokeru calls are automated and utilise artificial intelligence to collect spoken responses and key presses. Yokeru's wellbeing phone calls go out to Radius Connect24's service users across Northern Ireland at a time to suit them. The recipient has the opportunity to confirm they are okay. If they are not, they receive a call from the Radius Connect24 team shortly after. This is scalable and flexible. It's also efficient, as it's low cost. Ultimately, this is the beginning of a more accessible, inclusive, and proactive care system.