Inequalities in Dementia Services — [Christina Rees in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 1:19 pm on 16 May 2024.

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Photo of Maria Caulfield Maria Caulfield The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Business and Trade) (Minister for Women) 1:19, 16 May 2024

ICBs should be looking at care in their local population. If there is an issue between regions and across borders, they should have informal conversations, even with a neighbouring ICB, to try to join up the dots. That is why they are called integrated care boards. They are there to integrate health and social care as well as geography in terms of logistical local authority boundary issues. If there is a significant issue across the boroughs on the Essex border, I would happily meet local MPs to discuss it, because we want joined-up dots and better-connected care. Good local relationships can improve local services. We will be publishing ratings of how well local authorities are delivering adult social care, and we will support them to improve their performance, so I am particularly interested in any geographical boundaries preventing that work.

Coming to the social care workforce, the social care setting is integral to supporting families, particularly unpaid carers. Our workforce must be equipped with the skills it needs. We have commissioned and funded the dementia training standards framework, developed in partnership with the sector. The framework sets out the required essential skills that we expect to be applicable across the health and care spectrum, and we expect social care to train its staff according to the framework.

We have also launched the care workforce pathway, which is the first ever national career structure for the adult social care workforce. That is really important as it will cover the complexity of conditions that social care workers now care for and give them a career pathway, so that their option is not just to work for a bit in social care and then go and do something better-paid. We want social care to have career progression and pay progression and help people stay in the job that people love. We have created a new care certificate qualification to end the current practice of care workers having to retrain every time they work for a new employer. Work is being done in this space. To echo the point made by the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Denton and Reddish, about unpaid carers, we know that the vast majority of care is given by people who are looking after loved ones and friends, and they do an amazing job. Local authorities are required to undertake a carer’s assessment for any unpaid carer.