“We will care for the care workers as they care for us.”
This promise, made by the Prime Minister mid-pandemic, when ‘Clap for Carers’ brought the subject so vividly to life, must not be allowed to wither on the political vine, but driven through to successful delivery, as part of a wider national strategy for social care.
3 facts about the social care sector (England only):
• Over 1.5 million people work in social care, covering domiciliary care and care homes. (Half a million more than in financial services.)
• Currently over 110,000 job vacancies in the sector.
• Annual turnover of staff approaching 500,000.
3 facts about social care workers:
• Average pay is below £10 per hour.
• The work is demanding and highly stressful.
• Workers are poorly recognised, compared to, say, nurses and teachers (and unfairly described by government figures as ‘unskilled’).
To make matters worse, the shortage of staff is likely to become even more acute when the effects of the new immigration policy kick in, and the pipeline of EU workers severed. Senior members of government have proclaimed that British workers will fill the gap, but that may well prove to be wishful thinking.
Social care has changed over the years. No longer is it just a chat and a cuppa tea, it’s more likely to be about changing catheters and using a hoist.
The challenge, therefore, as we emerge from the pandemic, is to task the government to introduce policies that will address these issues, and transform social care into a recognised, skilled profession, which people are justifiably proud to be a part of, and rewarded accordingly.
And in so doing, to help the PM deliver his July 2019 promise: “We will fix the crisis in social care once and for all.”