I recently took part in a webinar called, it’s our community, a new and progressive vision for social care in later life. The event was organised by the festival of debate, an organisation that creates opportunities to bring people together to share new ideas and lived experiences that can help shape our understanding of the world. I heard from a panel of expert speakers and service users about their experiences and ideas for social care reform.
Sadly, the social care system is stuck in continual crisis, and it is letting people down – at no fault of the social worker!
Covid-19 has further demonstrated the already existing in-equalties in the care sector. It has also shown us the power of local neighbourhoods and the importance of ensuring that people get personalised support, avoiding institutional care and bureaucracy, whenever possible. During the pandemic neighbourhood watch became neighbourhood care.
There has been a severe failure to invest in social care, with central government being ideologically opposed to adequately funding local authorities properly. What is more, the failure to fund local authorities sufficiently, is putting the protection and rights of families, the disabled and older people at risk.
Central government must prioritise funding so that local authorities can deliver a care service that is dignified, respectful and accessible to all.
Currently we understand that those who can pay for social care will receive the care they need. But for those who are unable to PAY, they will too often receive substandard care, or none at all.
It’s also vital that we address the issue of inequality that carers suffer. Three and a half percent of carers have experienced hunger in the UK and over 100,000 carers have relied on food banks. A carers income must reflect the specialist skills and commitment that their role entails – so that they are not left to struggle financially or to care alone.
The social care system has been broken, we’ve seen the horrendous privatisation of care being turned into a money-making business, with local authorities struggling to deliver in house high-quality care and often outsourcing to private companies. We need to bring our care services back in house.
It’s time to end poverty in social care and stop unfair charges and low wages. Furthermore, we must invest in neighbourhoods, creating welcoming and inclusive communities, that empower and support the elderly and disabled.
The future of social care must be people-powered, rights-based and organised at a neighbourhood level linking and communicating effectively with primary and secondary care services, so that we can build a promising future for social care.