Valuing Social Care
Not a day passes by when we don’t see something in the media about social care and sadly more often than not it is a negative angle rather than the more positive one. It is often missed that our sector supports more people on any given day than our colleagues in the NHS. The sector employs 1.6 million staff but also carries a greater number of vacancies, which is a huge challenge as the demographics are clear about a greater need for care by 2030.
There is no doubt that within communities, those who need care and support will be directed towards social care solutions. Some of those solutions will be personal assistants or family and friends. A recent report by Care UK indicated that unpaid care in England and Wales was subsidising the care system to the tune of £162 billion pa! Many will be affected by these caring duties personally having to arrange their live around their caring responsibilities. The contribution by unpaid carers continues to increase year on year whilst the spend on social care, in real terms, decreases.
The figures are stark enough but add to that the black hole in social care funding of circa £12 billion, and you begin to wonder if there is any recognition of the value of social care. We know that there are a number of great soundbites that hit the headlines on a regular basis, but the reality is that we seldom get the monies passed through to the front line. The important thing to note is that monies released as grants are a short-term fix, we need to ensure sustainable solutions going forward.
The value of social care is to those who need to access it at the time they need it. No-one knows when they or a loved one may need care and support. It can be a slow creep towards it or a very sudden one. As a nation we must be clear about the offer as most people who need it are unclear that it is not free at the point of access. This can cause huge amounts of unnecessary stress and, at times, hold up critical assessments for hospital discharges.
Our amazing workforce remains committed to the values of social care despite the image portrayed in the media of the minority, which are not a reflection of the majority who work tirelessly to deliver care and support across the sector. Our sector has suffered at the hands of the media, at times, quite mercilessly. The reality is that we have a regulator who is funded, through the sector, to eradicate poor practice and that is what responsible providers want to see happen.
Despite the fact that working in social care brings with it enormous challenges the roles are rewarding and a privilege. To know that you are making a difference in the lives of those who need you is invaluable. We know that our colleagues in the NHS understand the critical part we play in creating safe pathways post-acute interventions, now all we need is to ensure that decision makers are on the same page.