Reforming the Social Care Sector
As a result of the pandemic, there has been a lot of conversation on the topic of adult social care, and what vital changes need to be implemented. This article explores some of the key suggestions discussed to revitalise the sector and ensure that those who depend on us get the service they deserve.
What exactly are the problems?
With reports of social care budget cuts, over 110,000 care staff vacancies and people having to sell their homes to pay for their care, many voices have spoken out to encourage the government to do more for this overlooked sector. A plan for reforms is set to come out later this year, but many industry experts have warned that the social care sector requires at least a £7 billion budget increase to turn things around, as well as concrete solutions for the high turnover, low pay and increase in mental health issues.
Here is a short analysis of four of the many recommendations. Below I have provided links to articles from where I sourced my information, but these can also be read to learn more.
Ban of 15-minute visits
Many local authorities are still commissioning 15-minute visits for “essential tasks” such as toileting, washing, eating – but many members of the sector argue that this is “undignified”. As a Dignity Champion, I too can see how 15 minutes is completely inadequate, especially for elderly and disabled customers who are more prone to loneliness. 15 minutes is nowhere near enough time for a care worker to develop a bond and care for emotional needs, which is also essential for mental health. It is recommended that all visits should be a minimum of 30 minutes so that each service user gets the care they deserve.
Realistic recruitment campaigns
It is well known that there is a high turnover rate in the care sector, and there are always plenty of vacancies. It is suggested that it may take only six months for a care worker to lose their passion and motivation after becoming qualified. Therefore, we need to stop idealising care work as “heroic” and “selfless”, but start being more transparent. It is not just visiting a person for a chat and to do their food shopping. It is a physical job with a variety of requirements, such as helping service users to wash, go to the toilet, maintain personal hygiene, get dressed etc. To some this all sounds quite daunting at first, and this is why we provide full paid training and we make sure that our care workers have time and support to get used to the nature of the job.
More investment in technology
For some, technology can seem a bit scary, but it has the potential to revolutionise the care sector. The Care Quality Commission has recognised its benefits, from saving time with administrative tasks such as record keeping to improving communication between care staff, families and service users. In addition, it can help monitor health concerns and so enable us to proactively respond to changing needs. Beyond government funding, a culture of learning needs to be promoted, so it can be demonstrate how technology can be an asset, and not a hindrance.
More recognition and appreciation of care assistants
For this, Caremark WB&R have a quick solution – the social thanking platform Thank and Praise (TAP). When I first heard of TAP, I knew we had to sign up. Educators, health and social care workers are essential – our society can’t function without them, yet they are the ones whose budgets are cut and efforts go unrecognised. Their work is often described as “thankless”, which is simply unacceptable. As an office worker for a domiciliary care agency, I work with some truly amazing individuals who go above and beyond for the needy and vulnerable in our community, and they definitely deserve more recognition. Hopefully, by signing up to TAP, we will be able to provide our Care and Support Workers with an always-appreciated morale boost.