Hope and goodwill can only hold for so long
By guest blogger ALAN LONG, Mears Group executive director
I welcomed the news last week that more than one million NHS workers will be receiving pay rises over the next three years. Less welcome, however, is the warning issued by the Institute for Fiscal Studies that the UK government’s plans for local authority funding could leave adult social care inadequately and inconsistently funded.
I have long campaigned for better pay and conditions for people working in the care sector. I want to see greater parity between NHS staff and care workers who are increasingly providing specialist services as more and more elderly and vulnerable people are being cared for in their own homes rather than in nursing homes or hospitals. My fear is that giving the deserving people in the NHS more money, will lead to more people simply leaving care roles, unless they are treated in the same way. If we want a truly integrated health and social care system, they indeed have to be.
At Mears, we are fortunate to have thousands of care staff who all come to work wanting to make a real difference to people’s lives. We want them to work in an environment where they are enabled to give a great service and be fairly rewarded for this, just like anyone else. Unfortunately, there are too many parts of the country where it is simply not possible to do either of the above based upon the charge rate that the council is prepared to pay.
The result? Fewer people are willing to care for a living. The homecare workforce already has costly and unsustainable turnover – around triple that of other industries. And ultimately, this impacts negatively on the quality of care we are able to provide to some of our most vulnerable members of society.
Care workers need a career of esteem, a sensible training and regulatory regime and a clear career pathway that involves specialisation and recognition of experience and skill. But there is simply not enough money in the system to support this. Right now, the market is being held together by hope and good will, and that can only hold for so long.
- The CT Blog is written in a personal capacity – comments and opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed or supported by Caring Times.