Our Chief Executive, Lesslie Young, looks at the “Show You Care” report which shows that Scotland’s social care is on a cliff edge.
The picture is stark but not new or surprising. Scotland’s social care sector is very clearly on a cliff edge. Common sense tells us, the issues revealed by the report can only have been exacerbated by the pressures brought to bear by the pandemic.
The GMB surveyed and interviewed 1,600 of their members to share their experience and perception of working in the social care sector in Scotland.
Of those respondents, 82% felt undervalued by their employer, 77% considered leaving the sector all together, and 89% thought Scotland’s social care sector was under funded.
Time for change
For decades, decision makers have ignored this vital part of our health care system. Evidence of poor conditions, lack of resource and staff exploitation have been met with endless inquiries, statements, and empty promises.
The result? Thousands dead as the pandemic took hold in settings whose sole purpose is to protect and care for those who are vulnerable and at risk.
It is shocking it has taken an event like this for society and governments to recognise the critical role social care has in our health care system.
In May this year, the Scottish Government made the welcome announcement care workers would receive a 3.3% wage increase, pushing their hourly salary to Real Living Wage standards.
This should only be the beginning of a raft of changes. If we simply maintain the status quo, it will only further entrench the problems of our broken social care system.
The time for these bodies to make good on their remarks during the pandemic about the value of care workers and their essential role is not fast approaching, it is here.
Working together toward a cohesive social care system
The Scottish Government, local authorities, and care providers must work together to create a cohesive social care system which is supportive of staff, attracts and retains the best talent, and provides world class care in all settings.
This can only be done with significant investment in services and in our essential care staff. While the Show You Care report reserves most of its criticism for employers and the Scottish Government, we must also examine the terms on which Local Authorities contract and purchase care services.
Their rigid tendering criteria, closed frameworks set for years and the disregard for external pressures felt by the provider, squeezes margins to such an extent that the provision of these services becomes untenable.
We will all need these services at some point in our lives
We are facing so many unknowns, so many uncertainties. Yet there is one glaring constant, our NHS and care services. It is reasonable to assume we will all need care and/or support at some time, and they will be there. Or will they?
When the worst recession on record, the impact of high levels of unemployment and the need to pay for all the government borrowing becomes a stark reality, as it undoubtedly will, what then?
When the going gets really tough, will society still see care workers of all descriptions as heroes? Or as I fear may happen, will there be evidence of societal short-term memory?
The nation demonstrated their appreciation of the NHS and other services by applauding every Thursday.
Now we need to demonstrate how much we value human life and the worth of those we entrust with their care. Not to do so would incur a cost society cannot afford.