Delivering the highest possible quality of care is the primary objective of every care provider. Over recent years we have seen significant improvements in the quality of social care services. These improvements have come at a time of great challenge for our sector, with resources being increasingly squeezed and the difficult task of recruiting and retaining a stable valued driven workforce, being the major challenge to delivering quality care.
Despite these issues the majority of care providers are delivering good support to their residents and service users and I believe this is because they are driven to deliver their services in line with the values of social care.
One of the things that I have noticed consistently in services that are delivering high-quality, is the leadership shown by those who either own or manage the service. Leaders really do set the tone for their organisations and it is organisations with open and accountable cultures where leaders understand that services can only be delivered if everybody share the values of the organisation and use them as a measure of success. It is also important that the values of social care are applied to the staff as well as to the service users and if you treat people with professionalism, dignity and respect they are likely to be able to deliver these values to the people they support.
What has become obvious in this recent COVID-19 pandemic, is that every social care service is dependent upon teamwork and the way in which social care staff have not only supported the people in their care, but have also been so supportive of one another has been truly humbling. I have heard countless examples of staff in social care going the extra mile to support the people in their services, sometimes at great personal cost. Many staff have worked tirelessly, some have even moved into the care service to ensure that they reduce the risk of bringing Covid into their services. We have also seen colleagues supporting one another particularly when social care colleagues have had to either self-isolate or shield because of their own health conditions and this has meant other staff have had to step up and cover their work.
The fact that social care has been able to maintain its quality and the way in which staff have supported one another has been truly amazing and we must use this as a platform for the future; we must all be determined that something positive will come out of this pandemic.
I believe that what we must see in the future is a much more positive approach to the workforce. We need staff to have the recognition and status that they richly deserve, accompanied by a clear training and competency framework, a career escalator, and of course a remuneration level which is appropriate to people who are delivering services to those with very complex needs.
In every other part of the economy quality costs, but this has never been acknowledged in social care. commissioners in local authorities and the NHS expect that services will be of the highest quality, but the funding that is being delivered is at unsustainable levels.
We have learnt recently that the Government is now going to push the reform of social care into next year and in many ways because of the COVID-19 crisis this is understandable. However, when we are discussing the future of social care, whenever that is, I want to make a plea that it is based on a real understanding of the complexity of the work and the amazing skills of the people who deliver care. Quality counts, and Quality costs and this must finally be understood by everybody.