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Shaping the future of social care

The owner of Birtley House care home in Guildford, Surrey looks at the future of social care

What is the future for social care?

It is no secret that a spotlight is shining on the care industry at present. From infection control to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, social care has never featured in so many headlines.

As an industry that has undergone much upheaval in the past year, care providers must actively look to the future – whilst managing the present and learning from the past.

The time has come for all care providers to collaborate – something Simon Whalley, Chairman of Birtley House Group Ltd, feels passionately about.

A history steeped in care

Simon Whalley of Birtley House Nursing home with directors
Simon Whalley (centre) with the other directors of Birtley House Nursing Home

Simon Whalley’s family founded Birtley House in the 1930s, and Simon has been a director at the home for the past fifty years.

Simon’s grandfather called on his experience as an army surgeon in the First World War to pioneer the private care of those with mental health problems, as far back as the 1920s.

Today, each of the five board directors at this thriving Surrey care home is a member of the Whalley family.

Birtley House has survived numerous depressions and a second World War, but it has successfully built a reputation for innovation as well as continuity and quality.

One hurdle for the Surrey care home, and other social care providers alike, has been the omission from the structure of the NHS over the years.

This is an issue that Birtley House hopes will now be addressed.

The importance of collaboration

Birtley House Care Home in Surrey working together to bring change

Simon strongly feels that, amid this global pandemic, care leaders must find the time to collaborate and plan. He explains:

“If there is one positive learning from this crisis, it is the importance of working together.

The care industry will emerge from the pandemic to a new world – one where collaboration and mutual support will be the new normal.

I am hoping that the importance of social care integrating with the NHS will finally be recognised.”

This statement carries such importance. Not just for the quality of life for those in social care, but also for the benefits that this collaboration could mean for the NHS.

A joint approach could reduce the risk of the health service being overwhelmed in the future and save substantial costs in normal times.

The team at Birtley House has long recognised the power of teamwork.

They know that working together will help them exert the influence to bring about the changes that are now so desperately needed.

Reinventing social care in Surrey and beyond

Birtley House Nursing Home Guildford care home

As a founder member of the Surrey Care Association, and long-term member of Care England, Simon has an active interest in shaping care throughout the county – and nationwide.  

Birtley House has worked with the Surrey Care Association (particularly with David Holmes) to report the deliberations of the Surrey Care Association to key influencers.

David is Chairman of Peak 15, and a director (and recent chairman) of the Surrey Care Association.

This trailblazing team has worked throughout the pandemic to identify the key factors that will result in a re-invention of social care.

And social care is a term which they would like to re-name as Life Care to reflect the importance of the whole range of care services provided.

The proposal not only addresses the care of older people, but the care of those with learning difficulties and other younger people experiencing issues.

The first steps towards change

On 6th November 2020, Surrey Care Association launched its initial proposal at a Zoom conference chaired by Professor Martin Green OBE, with Jeremy Hunt MP and Sir Robert Francis QC as the main speakers.

The proposal stated that its key elements require:

  • a fresh start with a new ethos
  • recognition of a valued workforce in the sector
  • new processes developed in partnership with the skilled owners and managers of ethical provider
  • fair and transparent funding arrangements
  •  reformed roles and structures avoiding the current siloed systems and duplication.

Surrey Care Association’s mission is to help achieve a consensus of goodwill and renewed public interest that will encourage the government to radically reform social care to secure better outcomes for those in need.

As Simon Whalley concludes:

“Care is our future, and we must act to ensure it comes with dignity and quality of life for all.”

Read the full report: Reinventing Social Care

Simon Whalley is Chairman of Birtley House Group Ltd and Fellow of Surrey Care Association. If you would like to discuss the future of social care or you are interested in finding out more about Birtley House Nursing Home, please email: or call 01483 892055