Opinion

Valuing and recognising leadership in social care

Jane Ashcroft CBE, Chief Executive, Anchor Hanover

Never has social care been so high-profile nor the people who work in it more in the public eye.

If there is one positive from the pandemic, it’s that recognition of the hugely important role of social care has never been greater.

Individual colleagues and care homes have featured in the media for going the extra mile to support residents’ wellbeing and keep them in touch with relatives. And that profile has helped ensure sector leaders have a strong platform to make their views known to ministers and policy-makers.

The exceptional leadership demonstrated at all levels in social care during the pandemic has been essential to the health and wellbeing of some of society’s most vulnerable people. The more we can recognise that – and tell the world about it – the more chance we have of achieving in 2021 the meaningful reforms that we have been demanding for the sector for years.

At Anchor Hanover, we are absolutely clear that recognising the strong, compassionate leadership and innovation of the care sector during the pandemic is hugely important for colleague engagement. It’s important that colleagues know they are valued and builds a sense of pride in the organisation and in the sector as a whole.

It’s also vital to the future of social care, which is why we’re very supportive of Care Talk’s Social Care Leadership Awards.

We work hard to recognise those who work for Anchor Hanover who are doing exceptionally good work. Our regular colleague awards are hugely popular, for example, and our levels of colleague engagement in our care homes have never been higher.

Among the ideas colleagues have embraced are our #BeKindToOneAnother initiative, which helped our residents to remain in touch with their local communities through letters of support, pictures and poems sent digitally or via post. Technology also played a key part in our response to Covid-19 as our homes hosted Zoom-based meetings between residents and loved ones, Afternoon Teas and dance challenges over Tik-Tok.

Our colleagues were also determined that the pandemic would not stop our residents celebrating 2020’s major events in style. VE Day 75 was a particular highlight as our homes celebrated with music, tea, activity packs and stories from residents of their memories of the Second World War. St Marys, a care home in Ipswich, even created a residents’ museum containing their memorabilia from the time.

All these activities were also a great opportunity to ensure that colleagues’ hard work was recognised in the media and helped boost the reputation of the sector more generally.

With social care firmly at the centre of public discourse, Anchor Hanover research found that 84% of the public believe social care is as important as the NHS and 54% wanted the government to prioritise reform of the sector.

Initiatives like Care Talk’s Social Care Leadership Awards can only help drive up that recognition even further. It’s only right that people who are working so hard across the sector are recognised for their exceptional efforts, particularly at a time like this.

There are added benefits too. By highlighting exceptional individuals, we also inspire a new generation of people to join the sector or to take the next step in their career. Crucially, growing awareness among the general public of the hugely important role that social care plays, provides a bigger incentive than ever for politicians to pay attention to what we do and do all they can to support it.

 

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