Two major local government bodies have applauded Somerset County Council for helping bring national attention to the pressures on social care.
An audience of several million viewers is expected to see the first of two Panorama films when they are broadcast on Wednesday, 29th May.
The film crew spent ten months filming the County Council’s Adult Social Care teams, shining a light on the incredible work going on in care and the pressures the system faces as growing demand outstrips funding.
Both the County Council Network (CCN) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have praised Somerset for helping tell the national story, highlighting the need for reform of social care and a long-term funding plan to secure its future.
This is the first time Panorama has devoted two hours to a single topic and the audiences at preview screenings in London and Taunton have described the films as “moving”, “powerful” and “gut-wrenching”.
The CCN published figures this week estimating that, by 2024/25 councils will need to be spending an extra £6.1bn every year on Adult Social Care, compared to 2015/16.
Councillor David Williams, CCN spokesman for Health and Social Care, and Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, said: “We applaud Somerset for stepping forward to demonstrate the pressures within local care services as well as reflecting the commitment of local government to do the best for residents.”
“This is not only a local issue; it is a national issue and a topic successive governments have been unable to find the answer to.”
ADASS President, Julie Ogley, said: “This is not just a Somerset story, but a national one facing all councils. We applaud everyone in Somerset for their courage in sharing their personal experiences and the film-makers for their unique portrayal of the range of perspectives in a sensitive, touching and powerful way.”
The Panorama ‘Crisis in Care’ films will be broadcast at 9pm on BBC 1 on Wednesday 29th May and 5th June.
They follow case studies through the care system, showing the remarkable work of Adult Social Care Workers, Occupational Therapists, Social Workers, care providers and the voluntary sector.
They document incredible stories of families and unpaid carers looking after loved ones, and the difficult decisions that come with the growing demand for care from an ageing population at a time of limited funding.
In 20 years, 24 per cent of England’s population will be aged 65 or over, in Somerset it will be 32 per cent. By 2035, 12 per cent of England’s population with be aged 65 or over and living with a long-term illness, in Somerset it will be 15 per cent.
David Fothergill, Leader of Somerset County Council, said “It’s been reassuring to see the impact these films are having on those who have seen them. They set out to bring social care to life and all the human stories that go with it – many of them heart-breaking.”
“They are already starting to raise the profile and start a debate, and that is why we got involved. We need to make sure the debate then turns into action. The future of social care in a hugely important issue for this country and we hope that these films can play some part in pushing it to the top of the political and public agenda where it belongs.”