Is It Time For a Complete Restructure of Our Care System?

Would the Social Enterprise model make for a better business case and better social care all round?

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The National Health Service is facing a health and social care crisis at present, and the challenge is primarily caused by the fact that people are living longer than ever before. As a result, there are now more people living with disabilities or illnesses which require care, and the current system is struggling to cope with the increased demand.

Although the issue has attracted significant political attention, and there have been some measures taken by the government to address the problem, it is nowhere near sufficient, especially in the long-term. Indeed, despite recent proclamations about the end of austerity, there are few signs that local authorities will receive anything like the funding boost the IFS says is needed to increase social care budgets sufficiently over the next decade.

So, with no solution to the problem in sight, is it time to restructure our care system? In this article, we examine the case for the social enterprise model and ponder whether socially conscious, for-profit businesses might be able to contend with the challenges more effectively, in order to deliver better care for care services users.

Understanding Social Enterprises

Essentially, a ‘social enterprise’ is a business which makes positive social change part of its mission statement. They can operate on a for-profit basis, but for-profit social enterprises will reinvest much of the money they make back into their business. As a consequence, growth means greater social good, and society profits when they profit.

According to Social Enterprise UK, social enterprises have governing documents which set out a clear social mission, and the majority of their income is generated through trade. To be classified as social enterprises, businesses must also reinvest most of their profits and be autonomous. Moreover, while ethical businesses try to minimise the negative impact they have, social enterprises try to maximise the social good they do.

“Contrary to popular belief, profitability and positive social impact are not mutually exclusive,” explains Prayag Narula, the CEO of LeadGenius, in an article written for Forbes. “It is, in fact, possible to build a successful company and do good. Doing good is the core of the business, not just something that happens along the way.”

Benefits of Social Enterprises in the Care Sector

Within the care sector, a lack of funding has meant that local authorities are increasingly turning to private companies for help. However, in many cases, this creates a conflict, with the private companies looking to maximise profits, and the local authorities wanting to maximise the quality of care.

This is an area where social enterprises can help, as the same clash does not exist with companies that are designed to continuously improve levels of care through reinvestment of profits into the business itself.

For the elderly and vulnerable, one of the biggest areas where social enterprises can offer assistance is through early intervention. As the National Audit Office points out, there is currently a lack of investment in prevention and early intervention techniques. However, intervening and providing care early can be especially helpful with illnesses like dementia, allowing service users to maintain personal independence for much longer.

Meanwhile, according to the Big Issue, there has been a 12 percent reduction in eligibility for council support since 2010/11. The result of this is that some elderly and vulnerable people, who could benefit from care at home, are no longer eligible for support from their local authority until their personal circumstances deteriorate further.

This has led to a ‘kicking the can down the road’ scenario, where problems are dealt with later, in order to minimise short-term expenditure. In some instances, it means elderly people who may have been able to stay living at home, when supported through earlier intervention, are instead left until they require a place in a care home.

While social enterprises can help, there is a reluctance to undertake the full-scale reform of the care system that is required to cope with the crisis of an ageing population and a lack of funding.

“Social enterprises are often involved in some of the most pioneering and transforming work helping reduce the pressure on acute services,” says Nick Temple, writing for The Guardian. “They have also helped deliver on the promise of integration, as with integrated mental health services. This needs to be the message sent out by social enterprises and charities: we are doing a huge amount already, and creating a great deal of social value.”

The Role Played By Abbots Care

Abbots Care has been delivering quality care services for the local community since 1995. Today, we have branches in Dorset and Hertfordshire, offering private care services, care for children with disabilities, dementia care, adult and respite care, and support for people living with learning disabilities.

We have been providing elderly care in Hertfordshire for over two decades, helping service users to retain their independence and live at home for longer, rather than going into a care home. Our team of professional, friendly, fully-trained care workers can visit at any time of the day or night, providing support whenever it is needed.

In addition, Abbots Care offers training and qualifications for those who are seeking a career as care worker. We are an approved training provider for level City & Guilds and NCFE National Qualifications, and also deliver our own in-house training, helping care workers to develop the necessary skills to advance their careers.

The Final Word

An ageing population and budgeting issues have placed an enormous strain on the NHS, leading to a heath and social care crisis. As a result, serious consideration needs to be given to restructuring the care system, so that it is fit for purpose, and in particular, the social enterprise model has demonstrated great promise.

You can find out more on our website about the care services, training services and employment opportunities offered by Abbots Care. Alternatively, email us at:, or call us on: 01727 891004.

“The Care staff that are supporting my Mum through her care needs are extremely lovely and supportive. Our Mum has cancer and she is receiving the most excellent and caring support from all Staff. We would just like to say a huge thank you as we know that there is more difficult times ahead for us as a family. ”

Child of Service User, Buckinghamshire Branch

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