With the possibility of a long-term funding settlement for social care, there is an urgent need for a bold reform agenda. For two decades, politicians have promised a long-term funding settlement for social care but failed to deliver on this. As a result, the policy conversation has been unable to move beyond the need for more funding. But we are now moving closer towards a solution, with a growing cross-party consensus behind the idea of introducing free personal care as recommended by IPPR’s Lord Darzi Review. If this happens, social care will need a bold vision and reform plan to ensure this investment fundamentally transforms the care.

This report identifies the three main drivers of quality in social care, and highlights some examples of innovative and high-quality care across England. In the context of a growing gap between life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, we must broaden our ideas about what high-quality care consists of, to include improving people’s wellbeing as they age, and therefore activities designed to engender purpose, meaning and social connection.

Enabling people to live fulfilling and meaningful lives as they grow older must be at the heart of our vision for social care. In this report, we call for a package of interventions across three areas: a long-term funding settlement for social care; a ‘new deal’ for the social care workforce to ensure social care staff are well-trained, well-paid and well-respected; and a new ethical commissioning charter to drive low-quality and unethical providers out of the market.