Opinion

Has Covid-19 left Social Care stronger?

Dr Glen Mason, Chief Operating Officer – HSG, City and County Healthcare Group

Social care colleagues up and down the UK are rising to the challenge. At HSG, part of City & County Healthcare Group, care workers are going the extra mile – innovating and brilliantly supporting customers and each other. From hand hygiene packs, to WhatsApp support groups, to supporting frightened customers the list is endless.

And this is despite the battles to ensure adequate PPE, maintain service in the face of high staff absence levels and achieving parity with the NHS in the nation’s supermarkets. Social Care is now on the map – an essential service working not just in partnership with the NHS but also protecting the NHS. Our social heroes.

Jane Townson, Chief Executive of the UKHCA also sees this, “Despite the pressures of COVID-19, care workers continue to display extraordinary compassion, creativity, commitment and collaboration. Lack of PPE has meant that agencies are sharing scarce stocks. Local cafes have donated fresh food to older people isolated at home. Supermarkets have given flowers to care workers. Car hire companies are offering schemes to help care workers travel whilst public transport is reduced.”

Adversity brings out the best in people. Some of those we care for say to me that the current situation reminds them of the war – the need to be selfless, to make do, share and make sacrifices. Will the Covid-19 pandemic change us and result in a more cohesive and less self-serving society?

Sir Norman Lamb, former Minister of State for Social Care told me of some amazing examples of communities coming together in Norfolk.

“People in the village of Mundesley are making sure all vulnerable people are looked after. They have posted leaflets on Facebook for people in the village to print off and deliver through neighbours’ letterboxes. They list all shops willing to make home deliveries. They have recruited volunteers willing to shop for elderly and disabled people and to deliver to them. For reassurance, they give the elderly or disabled person a password that the volunteer has to confirm. Another couple are doing collection and deliveries for the chemist. This sort of brilliant community action is happening across the country. The supermarkets must find ways of linking up with these volunteer networks. It’s all very well reserving online slots for vulnerable people but many of the people concerned are not online. They also need to develop alternative payment methods. Local shops are willing to take payment over the phone but supermarkets do not offer this. It’s clear that, in this crisis, local shops are coming into their own. They are more flexible, more fleet of foot”

And we have an opportunity now to add new heroes to the social care workforce. With some of the HSG Manchester office team self-isolating or sick I recently volunteered to interview care workers.

My first candidate had had his research project put on indefinite hold. He had researched in social care for a number of years and had experience of caring for family members. He was excited by the prospect of being a care worker and wanted to give something back during the pandemic. He was realistic, thoughtful and measured. I was pleased to appoint him.

My second candidate was a local young woman who had just been told her first year of a law degree at Cardiff University was suspended until the next academic year. She wanted to be a Human Rights lawyer, had friends in care, and had experience of both volunteering and caring for a family member. She was passionate, saw practical hands-on care as an activity she wanted to do. Another easy decision.

In this crisis Social Care is demonstrating the passion, hard work and dedication of its workforce. It has raised the profile of the sector in the eyes of politicians and the public. It has been a partner and an innovator and it has opened its doors to people looking for a career change and new opportunities.

Thank you to all in the sector for your service during this most difficult of periods. Maybe now Social Care with get the recognition it truly deserves, alongside the NHS.

 

 

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