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Thursday is Murder Club: changing the story around social care

Ed Maxfield, Director, Championing Social Care

Ed Maxfield, Director, Championing Social Care

Pop ‘attitudes to social care’ or ‘people’s experience of care’ into your favourite search engine and the results can make grim reading. Offering far fewer smiles than a Richard Osman novel.

There’s the Nuffield Trust survey showing negative numbers that would make a politician blanche.

There’s some decade-old research from Scope and from the Social Care Institute for Excellence, (SCIE), that highlight inadequate funding and lack of choice in care services. These themes run through numerous news stories and calls to action from campaign groups. On the other side of the scales, Anchor has published some post-Covid research that showed some movement in public attitudes. But the balance is clear and Richard Osman’s character Joyce, and her fellow Cooper’s Chase Murder Club members, would have a fun time assembling the list of likely suspects if they tried to explain why.

We all know that accessing care – at any age – can be a disruptive and disorienting experience. Many people have faced battles with funders, local authorities and the NHS to get care support that meets their needs. Outcomes for disabled people and care leavers – although improving in some areas – do still run behind the rest of the population in many fields. Recruitment and retention of staff is a problem across the sector.

We also all know that an aging UK population has more and more people living with chronic conditions and in greater need of care. The impact of that growth in demand is not helped by governments talking for years about the urgent need to ‘fix social care’ without ever quite getting around to it.

So far, so gloomy. It’s time for a plot twist.

The care sector is bursting with innovation and entrepreneurship. Adult care alone employs more people than the NHS in a workforce that is flexible, diverse, increasingly skilled and mostly female. The sector is also values-driven and focused on quality: it genuinely cares.

No one downplays or overlooks the challenges faced by the sector or those accessing care. But there is a growing need to change the narrative. The sector must do that for itself and here at Championing Social Care we are aiming to do just that. Hosted by the Caretech Foundation, the Championing Social Care team currently runs four key programmes that aim to make a positive difference for the sector. Let’s look at each of them in turn:

As you read this, the organisers will be recovering from staging the annual Care Sector Fundraising Ball. Last year, the Ball raised over £400,000 for the beneficiary charities. The Ball is an outstanding evening’s entertainment that brings together people from across the sector, and beyond, to celebrate what we achieve. At its core, though, is that ability to raise substantial funds for the beneficiary charities. Charities that each show the immense social value that the sector creates.

The Alzheimer’s society is a leading provider of support for those living with dementia and of research into the disease and its treatment. The Care Workers’ Charity supports those working in care when they need extra help, creating extra resilience in our workforce and unlocking future potential.

Our second major fundraising effort in the calendar is our Christmas Lunch. Plans are well under way for the lunch to be held at the RAC Club in London. We are thrilled that this year we will be raising funds for Adopt a Grandparent. This fantastic initiative again showcases so much that is good about the sector with its emphasis on tackling loneliness and promoting inter-generational collaboration.

April 2024 will see the return of Care Sector’s Got Talent. Last year’s show-case was watched live online by almost 1,800 people (with nearly 3,000 views now clocked up in total). Eight super-talented care workers battled it out in a live event held at Derby Arena. The winners have had the chance to reprise their performance at a number of high-profile events since the finals in the spring. The team is determined to make the 2024 show even bigger and better with more entrants and more viewers enjoying the extraordinary abilities that our sector has on offer.

Last, but not least, we organise Care Home Open Week.  The event in 2023 engaged over 5,000 care homes. One hundred and fifty Members of Parliament visited homes in the Week and significant media interest was generated. Just like our other programmes, we are aiming to make the 2024 Week the biggest yet. Once registrations are open we are hoping for a flood of engagement from the sector to ensure every corner of the country, and every aspect of the sector, is featured.

Championing Social Care is volunteer-led. By bringing together people who care about the sector and focusing on key programmes, we aim to make their contributions greater than the sum of the parts. Our mission is to spread positive stories about care. We rely on the wider sector to get involved and help us to tell the world about the great work you are doing. The popular image of the sector should be a place where empowered individuals come together to enrich their lives, stimulate their minds and broaden their experiences. If that includes running a weekly Murder Club in their care setting, we’ll be happy to tell the story.


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