The crucial role social care workers play has risen up the agenda, let’s make sure it stays there
Our Director of Operations, Mark Yates, explains why we have to make sure that the recognition of the crucial role that social care plays in keeping people safe and well is not lost after the coronavirus crisis.
It is often said (and I have heard it more than once recently!) that working at the time of a crisis brings out the best in people. I don’t think that could be more true in the current environment. Colleagues and teams have really stepped up to the mark in helping to ensure that Rethink Mental Illness is able to continue to do what we are here to do, going above and beyond in doing so. We have all had to adapt and change our approach and I would hope that some of the things that we are now doing in practice will become more common when we move back into a more usual way of operating.
One of the things which we have to ensure does remain long after the crisis is over, is the recognition of the crucial role that social care – and its workforce – plays in keeping people safe and well at home and in their communities. Social care has sometimes felt like the poorer relative of the NHS – both in terms of funding, and status of the workforce. But it does feel that the last few weeks has begun to change the narrative regarding social care. The 8pm clap for the NHS on a Thursday, for example, quickly moved to a ‘clap for carers’ – thanking all those who work in frontline health, care and support services. In their recent coronavirus social care action plan, the Department of Health and Social Care included a specific section on ‘appreciation’ in which they state:
“We want to make clear that those working in social care are heroes on the frontline of the response too. We must ensure that social care gets the recognition and parity of esteem that it deserves. An important legacy of this crisis must be the value that we place on social care as an essential service, core to delivering the frontline response to this crisis, and to ensure everyone understands that people who work in social care are key workers, in every sense.”
While the above clearly states what we have always known, it is good that there is now national recognition of this, and we must ensure that long after the crisis has ended, that this sticks like superglue. This is a role for all of us whether that’s in influencing the national conversation and policy through our campaigns work or delivering on the frontline.
One of the things which we have to ensure does remain long after the crisis is over, is the recognition of the crucial role that social care – and its workforce – plays in keeping people safe and well at home and in their communities.
So when we do leave the house on Thursday evening to clap for carers, I think of my colleagues working in our services. Those in our community and advocacy services who have changed their way of working to support people remotely, coming up with new ways to connect with people using our services. Teams in our prison and criminal justice services who are working hard to ensure that we can still offer support to people in secure settings. Colleagues in our advice team and on our helplines, supporting people as they navigate their way through an uncertain path.
I wanted to finish with a special mention for those colleagues who are working in our accommodation services. We have 21 CQC services and a large number of supported housing services. In these services, many which require 24/7 support, colleagues continue to do an incredible job. They are our frontline staff – our key workers – and without them people living with mental illness in these services would not be getting the vital care and support they need day in, day out and at a time when they need us most.
Thank you – we are incredibly proud of you – and we know it is our job to ensure that our work and our workforce continues to receive the recognition that it deserves.