Open letter for those in Social Care
We received an open letter for those in Social Care recently from a Social Care Manager that we felt needed sharing with the wider world.
To whom it may concern,
Health and social care needs help. Not just as individuals, carers, co-ordinators, care mangers, but as businesses and as an industry.
I have been in care for 25 years, 18 years of those in Management positions. Let me give you an example of how much care has changed. When I first started families would look after their older relatives and we only needed a skeleton staff to care for people over periods such as Christmas or other festive holiday. As the years have gone on families have been helping less and less. I have had families say to me, keep the carers going into Mum’s we may pop in after lunch, this was for Christmas Day. We currently have families that live very close to their elderly relatives, some as close as the bottom of the drive, but still want carers to go in. We have just started our Christmas planning for this year, so far the expectation is it will be a normal day with the carers being expected to go out as normal.
The NHS have run advertisement campaigns reminding everyone that nurses have families, and they are giving up their family time to care for people. I totally respect this and greatly appreciate the work they do. However the carers in social care, be that in the community or in residential or nursing homes, also are giving up their time but no mention is made of this. They are working in very difficult, and in some cases very unappreciated, circumstances, travelling in all weathers and covering unsociable hours.
As the complexity of care has increased in social care, so have the risk and the responsibility social care staff take on. Over the past 25 years I have spoken with many people leaving the industry because the wages are not enough and they simply cannot cope with the responsibility the role places on them. Responsibilities such as dealing with medication weigh heavy on peoples shoulders, having very strict times to adhere to in order to get someone, who probably cannot move very quickly because of pain and discomfort, up, washed and dressed ready for the day.
Care is a wonderfully rewarding job. Care providers are made up of people that care. Most people in care are “can do” people. They are proactive; they look to make things easier for the people they visit. They look for jobs that “need” doing without being asked. Very seldom to they ask for help. The Providers they work for have the same morals and principles. You do not go into care for the money, because as we know it is just not there, you go into care because you want to. Unfortunately there are less and less people willing to make the commitment, and, those that are there do not receive the recognition they deserve from the communities they work in. How many times have the media covered issues or bad experiences of people using home care. They do not report on the thousands of carers delivering very high standards of care to many thousands of people. This is not news worthy.
Care cannot be funded by thanks, appreciation and love alone. We need to pay our carers a decent wage. As I have said they are out covering unsociable hours, in all winds and weathers. Working within the community they need to have motorised transport, this is not a luxury this is a necessity, especially covering rural areas such as Taunton. The running cost of this transport is going up, because of the squeeze on wages they are subsidising this need on already low wages.
I am sure there are many people in care suffering from stress, lack of sleep, migraines, auto immune diseases, back problems and depression. You may say there are lots of other industries that are also dealing with the same issues within their workforce. However, there are lots of care staff I know have these conditions, but still go to work because they know that people less fortunate them themselves depend on them. As I have said they are people that very seldom ask for help. Nonetheless when a carer, paid or unpaid, asks for help it is a very strong signal that there is something wrong and they need support. This applies to care agencies too. We are not asking but categorically saying “we need help and support now”.
As a care manager, carer, family member, patient and human being I am also asking for help now.
Thank you for reading this.17.11.2017