THE HEAD of adult social care in Somerset will be “demanding action” from central government after two new documentaries on the county’s struggles air in the coming weeks.

Somerset County Council invited in film crews over a ten-month period to make a two-part special on adult social care for the BBC’s Panorama programme.

Director of adult services Stephen Chandler invited the film-makers to come in as part of a wider effort to reform the way social care is delivered on a national scale.

The finished programmes will air on BBC One on May 29 and June 5.

The episodes document the council’s challenging financial position over a ten-month period as it struggles to meet the growing demand on adult social care and other front-line services.

As well as spending time within the council’s chamber as tough decisions are taken, officers, social workers and staff from care providers are filmed chatting about different cases and what can be done to help people get the care they need.

Running throughout the programmes is the ongoing conflict between the changing and complex needs of the people who need help and the restricted amount of funding available to meet those needs.

The programmes also feature a number of case studies of adults who are receiving various kinds of care commissioned by the council, from an elderly couple with dementia to a mother of triplets who has severe arthritis.

While Somerset serves as the setting for the episodes, Mr Chandler hopes they will spark a national conversation about the future of social care which will make the government take action.

A promised green paper on the future funding of social care has been repeatedly delayed in parliament, in part due to the ongoing Brexit debacle.

Speaking after the screening in Taunton, Mr Chandler said he invited the cameras in so Somerset could “take a leading role in raising the issues”.

He said: “I’ve been working in the care sector all of my life, and it’s becoming harder and harder to meet the needs of individuals.

“I hope the programmes will bring alive to the general public just what adult social care means. It’ll bring alive the range and diversity of people that we work with; it’ll also give a really good insight into the challenges that people experience day to day, and the responsibilities that councils have in that.

“I hope it will get people writing to their MPs, raising issues with them, expressing concerns that successive governments have failed to find a plan, and encouraging this government to move from reviewing and discussing into creating a clear plan to take us forward.”

Mr Chandler said the amount of money available from central government was “an absolute issue” – but it was not simply a case of asking for more.

He explained: “We need to ensure that is adequate money in the system, but equally important is ensuring that money is targeted and used effectively.

“We need greater emphasis on prevention and earlier intervention – helping people remain healthy and independent for longer. But we also need to ensure there is adequate support to help people as their care needs increase.

“So it is about the total amount of money available, but it is equally about how we use that money.

“We need to continue to challenge and ensure the debate moves from being a debate into an action plan. So we will certainly be raising the issues on a continuous basis, and we will be demanding action.”

Panorama: Crisis in Care will air on BBC One on Wednesday, May 29 at 9pm, with part two being screening at 9pm on Wednesday, June 5. Both episodes will be available via BBC iPlayer after they have aired.