Social care funding needed now
The news media are keen to talk about shortages of petrol, HGV drivers, fruit pickers, etc, but they are not talking about the social care crisis caused by the shortage of carers.
The government tells us it is going to solve the hospital crisis, yet unbelievably doesn't seem to recognise the impact that the social care crisis has on hospitals. It shows no understanding at all of the NHS reliance on social care.
Patients can't be discharged from hospital without care in place. Patients are waiting weeks to be discharged, putting pressure on beds and preventing new admissions for people in need of hospital care.
Most care at home is provided by private care providers. The lack of staff means that the limited number of staff are being put under pressure to work extra shifts, losing days off, coming under stress, and seeing how their work is unappreciated by the government and care bosses.
Many are reluctantly leaving to work in supermarkets, where they can get a higher hourly rate and fixed hours, because they have families to support.
Carers are often viewed as low-skilled workers providing a bit of shopping and cleaning, when in fact they often deal with people with complex care needs.
They administer medication, monitor oxygen and assess when to give seizure medication. They manage intravenous feeding and administer medication via a PEG feeding tube. They have regular training to keep up to date with the competencies required for the job. They also need to recognise and report safeguarding situations.
They do all of this on minimum wage with little or no appreciation of the skilled job that they do. Most are not unionised leaving them open to exploitation by private companies, who rely on their commitment and loyalty to the vulnerable people that they care for.
Why would anyone choose this as a career? They are certainly not in it for the money, or the status. Could it be that they are doing it because they care and want to support and enable vulnerable people?
When will the government realise that it can't support the NHS without giving equal support to social care? It is time the government recognised carers are a skilled workforce who deserve recognition in both pay and conditions. That is the only way that we are going to retain and recruit staff in the care sector. It is also a major part of any hope for the NHS to run smoothly or to survive.
In The Socialist 13 October 2021:
We need a pay rise!
What we think
Youth Fight for Jobs
Winter of Discontent