The following appeared as my column in the Barnsley Chronicle on 19th March:
Adult Social Care is a vital sector that has often been overlooked by successive governments. Everyone will know someone who is involved in this profession whether they be serving on the front lines, or in need of direct support through local social care services.
I grew up with a parent who works in the social care sector and have seen first-hand just how tiring and thankless the profession can be. Long hours with very little reward are the daily routine for these unsung heroes of our health sector.
I, along with many, was disheartened after the recent budget to see that social workers (along with other key workers) were not given a pay rise or the recognition that they deserve. I appreciate that the purse strings will have to be carefully managed over the coming years, and the responsibility of any government is the responsible management of a country’s economy, but that responsibility does not have to be at the detriment of our Social Care workers who really have been at the forefront of our fight against Covid-19.
An aging population means that this is a sector which is expected to grow dramatically in size over the coming years. Unless we tackle our funding problems head on, we’re only going to be pushing the problems further down the line to successive governments and generations. A balanced and reasonable cross-party approach is the only way to effectively solve this potential care crisis.
There are nearly 1 million people who used publicly funded social care services in the last year, and it is estimated that around 1.5 million people have an unmet need for social care services -; that is no small amount.
This post-covid world gives us the perfect opportunity to reimagine our social care sector and to make it work and truly be effective and fair in the years to come.
The cross-party parliamentary group on Adult Social Care announced its recommendations on the future of social care in late 2019. These recommendations highlight eight ideas to help improve our social care sector.
The recommendations range from promoting the sector and raising the public profile, and importance of the industry, to pushing for a stronger focus on adult social care. They argue that social care can be an enabler to help care and support people to live more independently, with a more positive portrayal of the value and benefits of working in the sector.
But perhaps the key ask that rings is the simplest one to address is, as I’ve already mentioned, the need for a cross-part solution which is key to providing a sustainable vision for the future of the adult social care system.
I, along with colleagues the length and breadth of this country will happily work hand in hand with government colleagues if it means getting a fair deal for our social care workers.