Competition, Values and Participation: Caritas in the Social Care Sector
The social care services provided by Caritas have to balance users’ interests, market mechanisms and tough competition. We have asked ourselves, ‘How can we, as an organisation, stay true to our mission while ensuring, promoting and empowering the participation of those seeking help?’
We therefore formulated a new position in an innovative resolution passed by the Assembly of Delegates of the German Caritas Association in October 2007. Whether or not people can realise their right to self-determined participation depends on their personal resources and limitations. One new instrument for providing people with disabilities with more leeway for reaching decisions and setting priorities is giving them a personal allowance.
Poor People Have the Right to Quality Social Care
The German Caritas Association supports having the freedom of choice. This choice becomes threatened, however, if funding institutions exclusively contract out services to a single provider. This means that recipients are forced to go to a single institution for certain services and can therefore no longer choose. If local authorities were to centrally contract out all the nursing home places needed for recipients of additional social welfare payments, for example, then these people would have little or no choice in the matter. Meanwhile people who do not receive welfare would still be able to choose from a wide selection of nursing homes. Caritas finds this unacceptable, and we therefore fight for those in need and their right of participation, even, or especially, when they do not have large incomes or assets.
Subcontracting Services Limits People’s Right to Choose
As a result of having to compete for contracts, welfare organisations are forced to become state contractors and therefore forfeit their independence. People in need must be able to rely on qualified assistance that also supports them. Caritas is in favour of giving all institutions and associations able to supply high-quality social work the opportunity to provide their services.
Social Systems of Competition
Providers of social care services work with people in difficult and existential situations whose opportunities are often limited and who are unable to stand up for their own interests. Elderly people living in nursing homes, for example, cannot easily change their providers if they are not satisfied with the care they receive. This must be taken into account when market principles are applied to the social care sector. People in need should receive high-quality health and social care, and providers should be able to provide that care reliably.
Raising Caritas’ Profile through Quality
Despite the increasingly tough competition, Caritas is able to hold its position because its centres and institutions work according to common approvable and comparable quality standards. Our central coordination of a network of services contributes to quality, as does the dedicated involvement of our numerous volunteers. Caritas is committed to constantly raising its profile as a reliable provider and to increasing its familiarity and market opportunities. In order to meet the individual needs of people who require long-term assistance, we need organised social care markets with fair and transparent competition and stable funding.