Care and Support Reimagined: A National Care Covenant for England


In January, we wrote about the Archbishop of Canterbury’s New Year’s Day message in which he expressed the urgent need for change and action to fix the UK’s ‘broken’ social care system.

Since then ‘Care and Support Reimagined: A National Care Covenant for England’, the report commissioned by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, has been published.

The report was published on January 24th and outlines a new vision for England’s social care system. It was compiled by a commission of nine experts who were asked to ‘reimagine care and support’ in a way that addresses the needs and concerns of those who draw on care and support, those that work in the social care sector and those that care for others.

The report calls for the following action points:

  • Rethinking attitudes to care and support
  • Rebalancing roles and responsibilities
  • Redesigning the social care system

The report calls for a Covenant, which would be overseen at Government level and would set out the rights and responsibilities of everyone involved in care.

It explains that the church has been a leader in the ‘provision of care and healing’ since early times, citing the example of ‘district visiting in the Victorian era’ amongst many others, which is why ‘this is an appropriate task for the church to undertake’.

One of the opening sentences from the report states:

‘Care and support should enable us to live the best lives we can. It is about human flourishing; or, in the language of the Bible ‘Life in all its fullness’.’

At SCTV, we have always been strong advocates of person-centred care and warmly welcome these words.

The report goes on to call for ‘a fundamental and comprehensive redesign of care and support.’

We are sure that the following statement will resonate with many of those reading this article, who we know from first-hand experience dedicate their lives to care, often going far above and beyond and selflessly putting others first:

‘We urgently need a new approach to care which includes a long-term plan for the recruitment and retention of paid carers as well as the redesign of roles. Their skill and contribution to people’s lives must be valued and given recognition so that social care is regarded as a rewarding career. This has to be accompanied by improved pay, conditions, and training. Recruitment should be based on values and attitudes as well as qualifications and experience.’

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Justin Welby, welcomed the report, saying:

“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.”

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.”

The full report can be read at:

Care and Support Reimagined: A National Care Covenant for England | The Archbishop of Canterbury


Photo attribution: Archbishop of Canterbury visits Chelmsford Cathedral, Sunday 13 January 2019, is licensed under CC BY 2.0.