Transform care and support through a National Care Covenant, says Archbishops’ Commission

24/01/2023

In a report published today (‘Care and Support Reimagined: a National Care Covenant for England’), the Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care has set out three actions to realise a new vision for care and support: rethinking attitudes to care and support; rebalancing roles and responsibilities; and redesigning the social care system.

The Commission, which was launched by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in April 2021, calls for a National Care Covenant which sets out the roles and responsibilities of government, communities, families and individuals. The Covenant would be developed through public dialogue, and would articulate the mutual responsibilities of individuals, families, communities and local and national government. 

Key elements of the Covenant proposed by the Commission are: 

-    Investment in communities
-    A stronger role for the state
-    A new deal for unpaid carers 
-    A commitment to our responsibilities as actively engaged citizens 

The report argues that tackling negative attitudes to ageing and disability must be the starting point to reimagining care and support. Furthermore, the report makes radical recommendations for redesigning the care system, with a long-term aspiration of making care and support a universal entitlement, including:

-    Simplified assessment that leads to a guaranteed budget
-    People being trusted to manage their own care and decide what help they need 
-    Independent advocacy to help people to access their rights and entitlements 

The Commission recognises the lack of progress that has been made in implementing the proposals of previous high-profile reports, and highlights the need for a broad coalition – including politicians, faith communities, charities, and user-led organisations – to take action.

Its report is based on 18 months of listening and engaging with people who draw on care and support, unpaid carers, care workers, and organisations that provide and commission care, as well as experts. 

Welcoming the report, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby said: 
“This report gives me hope that we can rise to the challenge of fixing our broken social care system. Jesus Christ offers every human being life in all its fullness, and so we must broaden our understanding of care and support as the means by which everyone, regardless of age or ability, can experience abundant life. Rooted in the right values, the development of a National Care Covenant is a step towards this, where everyone is engaged in a collaborative effort to ensure that we can all access the care and support we need.”

The Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, said: 
"This report outlines a new vision for our society where we learn to be inter-dependent with one another, where I thrive because you do, and together we live in a country where we serve one another and flourish together. In our Church, this begins with us proclaiming loudly and clearly that each of us is made in the image of God, known and loved deeply for who we are, not simply for what we contribute. I pray that this report is the beginning of a wider national conversation about what it means to be a caring society.”

Commenting on the release of the report, the Chair of the Commission, Dr Anna Dixon MBE, said: 
“Our reimagined vision for care and support puts relationships at the centre and encourages us to think about how social care can enable everyone to live well. This is no time for tinkering around the edges of a social care system that for too long has left people who draw on care and support feeling marginalised, carers feeling exhausted and undervalued, a system which provides no clarity about what is expected of each of us. A National Care Covenant, with its focus on the mutual responsibilities, will help us to work together towards our common goal.”

The Co-Chair of the Commission, the Rt Revd James Newcome, Bishop of Carlisle, reflected:
“It has been a privilege to hear the experiences and aspirations of people from across the country who draw on care and support, unpaid carers, and care workers, and we have sought to reflect their contributions in our report. I believe that the Church of England, alongside other faith communities, has a vital role to play in supporting people and creating spaces where everyone is valued and can participate, regardless of age or ability.” 

To read the Archbishops’ Commission on Reimagining Care Report visit cofe.io/ReimaginingCareReport 

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