Opinion

It’s time to take live in care seriously

Paula Beaney, Quality Assurance Director, Promedica24

The latest figures from Skills for Care have revealed, live-in care accounted for the vast majority of the rise in adult social care jobs between 2019/20 and 2020/21, with 40,000 new jobs in the sector. This represents a significant 7% increase and we have seen this first-hand at Promedica24. However, there are still misconceptions about our work, as it is often mistaken for hourly care, instead of an option which offers bespoke, person-centred, one-to-one care.

The live-in care sector is rapidly growing as more people choose to benefit from care in the comfort of their own homes and communities, carrying on their day-to-day routines, with help from their dedicated companion.  While live-in care is a great alternative to residential care for those who want to preserve their independence, it is often misunderstood by the general public and overlooked by decision-makers.

As the Quality Assurance Director at Promedica24, and with over 30 years’ experience in health and social care, I believe that more needs to be done for the live-in care sector to be recognised on an equal footing as the rest of the health and social care sector.

Our studies found that 70% of older people said they would rather be cared for at home than go into residential care, which proves the importance of challenging misunderstanding about this care arrangement. Live-in care empowers older and vulnerable people with a choice, and it needs to be seen as a legitimate option that people can make for themselves or for their loved ones.

Social care, and live-in care more specifically, supports the elder and vulnerable members of our communities.  As such, it should be appropriately recognised and rewarded for the invaluable role that it plays in our society. The Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on care homes, but equally impacted the live-in sector, although this has often been left out of the media spotlight. Unclear isolation and quarantine guidance and regulations prove that live-in care was overlooked by the Government. Moreover, despite the differences between residential and live-in care, the Government’s recent White Paper lacked the nuances to differentiate support for each industry.

An important part of changing how live-in care is seen relates to a bigger problem, which is the disparity between health care and social care that we see reflected in Government policy. For instance, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report on adult social care published in April this year was the first time that social care has been taken seriously. The report acknowledged the distinct lack of resources in social care compared to healthcare, as well as the absence of a coherent workforce strategy for social care in England. Considering that the devolved nations do have this in place, it would be a great first step for the Government to introduce a social care workforce register, with a minimum level of entry and the requirement of a recognised qualification to improve both the quality of the sector and boost confidence amongst consumers.

Additionally, to help create a level playing field, the Government should improve social care salaries in a way that is comparative to the health care industry – where a 4.5% pay rise was recently announced. This would certainly help with staff shortages and encourage skilled and dedicated carers to stay in the sector, and ultimately benefit care receivers.

I hope that as more people start talking about live-in care, this will dispel misconceptions and give people more choice and alternatives in important decisions for themselves or their loved ones. The Government needs to take real steps towards improving the standing of all types of adult social care, creating a level playing field between health and social care. But live-in care in particular deserves much greater recognition for the empowerment it can provide. As a growing sector, offering bespoke care options, it’s time to take live-in care seriously.

Kirsty

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