Social care is one of the most rewarding, but at the same time complex and difficult career choices. Partly this stems from the fact that despite dealing with some very important and complex issues, social care has never had the same recognition, rewards or career structures that are available to the NHS.
Social care has a really good story to tell and the roles that we can offer our very varied and people who go into social care are some of the few who can truly embark on a career for life. In other parts of the economy, economic and social change mean that it is difficult for people to see any one career path as being sustainable throughout their working lives. Social care is so different because demographic change means that our skills and knowledge will always be required.
It is time that social care was seen as a part of national infrastructure and given the same recognition and reward that is available to the NHS. The people who are supported in social care are exactly the same as those that the NHS supports and this needs to be acknowledged by society.
We have also got to recognise that 21st-century services will not be the same as those that were delivered to previous generations and there is a need for innovation and creativity within social care. We must attract the very best talent if we are going to secure our future, I have been doing some work with Chris Gage from “Ladder to the Moon” about how we can enshrine creativity into the ethos of working in social care.
Having an opportunity to be dynamic and creative is a really powerful way to sell social care to the next generation of leaders. I am really delighted that Care England has such a dynamic and innovative young leaders’ group and when I see the quality of people who are coming into our sector, I have every confidence that we have a bright future ahead of us.
However, in order to establish social care in its rightful place we do need to have both recognition and a long-term strategy on the social care workforce from the government. The new Prime Minister has made some clear commitments about solving the social care crisis and he will only be able to do this if we have a workforce that is dynamic, creative, innovative and uses our resources in different ways.
Demographic change means that there will be increasing numbers of people who require social care support and yet the workforce that is available to deliver this is more difficult to find. This tells us that we have to develop new ways of working. We have to embrace technology, engaging innovation and creativity and define a pathway for social care that is sustainable long into the future.
I believe all the building blocks for success are already in our system and what we now need is some real leadership from the government so that the talent and creativity that exists in social care can be nurtured, supported and allowed to deliver the solutions that will be required in the 21st-century.
Despite the gloom and inertia in government policy that has beset social care over the last two decades I know social care has a bright future, there is everything to play for and I’m confident that with the right support we will win.