It is appropriate in this 100th edition of Care Talk magazine to take stock and understand what makes a quality care system. In my view the core of good care are the staff, and how they respond to people who use services, and how they live the values of social care in their professional practice are the cornerstones of quality care.
It has become very clear during this COVID crisis that the social care workforce are one of our biggest asset, and the commitment and dedication that they have shown in the very worst of circumstances, is truly humbling
COVID has been a watershed moment for the entire country and it has changed many lives forever. It has also led to a greater understanding of social care, that it has brought, must be the foundation of developing more recognition and reward for our amazing staff.
If we are going to transform Social Care it requires all the major players in the system to think differently and to recognise and reward the social care workforce and acknowledge the complex and challenging work that they do.
In order to transform social care, there are certainly many actions that are required by government. We desperately need a long-term funding solution for social care and a new recognition of what social care contributes to a national life. I believe social care is a part of national infrastructure and the staff must be seen as essential workers. Social care and the NHS are interdependent, and it is important that our colleagues receive the same recognition, training and rewards that are available to the NHS. We also need the public to understand and recognise social care and acknowledge the contribution of social care staff. I believe that the increased recognition that we have received during the COVID-19 crisis must be used as a platform for delivering this noble objective.
It is vital that people understand social care as a profession, rather than see it as a job. There is a requirement for a new qualifications and skills framework with portable qualifications that are recognised across the system. We also need to have clear career escalators and the reward and recognition that comes with being part of a nationally important profession.
There also many things that employers can do to improve the status of the social care workforce. Social care staff are doing incredibly important and very complex work, which is both emotionally and physically very demanding. It is important that employers recognise this and offer opportunities for staff not only to develop, but also to have the support systems that will enable them to manage this extremely challenging and stressful work. Recognition is very important, and this is not always about the money. When I talk to our colleagues who work in caring roles, they tell me how important it is that they feel valued and recognised by their employers, and there are many examples across the social care sector of excellent employers who really understands this and find ways of supporting and recognising their colleagues.
The COVID-19 crisis has realigned the economy and there will be many people looking for new opportunities, and I hope that many of them with the right values, will be attracted to social care because as well as being complex and challenging, working in our sector is one of the most rewarding and satisfying things anyone can do.