ESSC 2021

2021 Theme

Beyond Covid: Rethinking the Future of Community Care

The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a grim toll on community social care in Europe. Those we have spoken to as part of our work on documenting the impact of the pandemic were clear that not only was the sector ill-prepared for the crisis, but the response when it did arrive was not sufficient and was implemented too late. In our 2020 series of Covid-19 webinars with social services and social care directors, planners, commissioners, and managers, we were told on many occasions that social care did not feel like a priority, guidance was not always accurate, there was a lack of human and funding resources and when there was, they were slow to arrive.

Previous years of lack of adequate investment had already left the sector without the equipment necessary to manage the crisis. In terms of the response, guidance, resources, and financial support arrived too late to address the crisis, which raises questions about the future funding of community care. Results have been covered by the media in terms of an unacceptable number of excess deaths in care homes, and far too many care workers dying -all of which raise ethical concerns that should be addressed.

Indeed, a key challenge has been ensuring that people using social care services, and the workforce that provide them were properly supported. Social community care system is fragmented, with care being delivered by thousands of providers. Whilst this may be a strength, it can also represent a challenge in terms of coordination. Accessing any real-time data using adequate digital technology on what has been happening across services would be key in terms of future crisis preparedness to be able to pull together.

The crisis also had the impact of exposing the deep levels of inequalities which exist in our societies, with not just older people, but also vulnerable children and women, the homeless, adults with learning disabilities, and those on the lowest incomes, disproportionately affected. Addressing inequalities will need to be a priority for any future reforms as we set to rebuild community social care.

Lessons need to be learned for future crisis preparedness. We should aim for a growing emphasis on care provided in the community putting personal needs and relationships at the heart of social service practice. While policies have been increasingly aiming to transform health and social care services to reach people in their homes and communities, the focus should also shift to early, effective interventions for children and their families, young people, and proactive support for people with long-term health conditions and their families. Rethinking the future of planning and delivery of community care, the conference aims to inspire with examples, aspire for change, and dare for better outcomes for children and families, young people, older people, migrants, people with mental health problems or disabilities.

Workforce in a transformed community care

Social service professionals are key in transforming community care. In the wake of Covid-19, how should we rethink community care workforce training, retention, and wellbeing?

Community care: “hidden’ engine for growth

As we set to rebuild community care beyond Covid, it is possible to get value for money when investing in community care. Do we need to rethink the financing of community care?

Ethics of community care

Covid-19 led to an unacceptable number of excess deaths in care homes, and far too many care workers dying. How will this situation make us rethink ethics in community care?

The role of technology in transforming community care

We have realised how technology can help improve community care during Covid-19. How can technology help in rethinking community care for future crisis preparedness?