There has continued to be a lack of acknowledgement for those working in care. Now, in the midst of the pandemic, it’s clear there has been a dramatic, nationwide shift in how the public view the sector.
It’s unfortunate that the health and social care sector has mainly been underappreciated. From low wages to care workers being referred to as ‘unskilled workers’ by the Home Secretary, there has continued to be a lack of acknowledgement for those working tirelessly to provide crucial care to our loved ones.
Now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear there has been a dramatic, nationwide shift in how the public view the sector.
Following on from the weekly ‘Clap for Carers’ and the gifts and donations sent by local communities into their local care facilities, it’s evident that many are realising the true value of those working in the industry.
The COVID-19 crisis has shone a spotlight onto workers who are on the frontline, highlighting not just how much we rely on them, but how much we undervalue them.
Countless care and support workers have gone the extra mile during the pandemic. For instance, many staff have moved in with service users, and others continue to be exposed to high risk due to the lack of PPE.
This is despite the fact that according to the Office for National Statistics, social care workers are actually twice as likely to die from COVID-19 compared to the rest of the population.
Yet, even in light of these selfless actions, many social care workers are earning low wages, with some surviving on less than the living wage. Seven out of ten people earn less than £10 an hour, while a quarter remain on zero-hour contracts according to TUC.
It will, therefore, come as no surprise that one in five health workers will consider changing their career following the pandemic. This is according to a new survey by IPPR who reveal the industry could lose over 300,000 health care workers. If care workers continue to receive no support, the number of those calling it quits could cripple the sector.
However, many are hopeful for change. The nation has taken note of the incredible work carried out by everyone in the health and social care sector, and many are calling for reform.
This is echoed by further research conducted by IPPR of the general public. Their findings stated that 88% of the general public are calling for pay increases, and an additional 95% are backing the call for the government for increased mental health support.
With the demand for change now being echoed by the wider public, the health and social care sector are anticipating improvements across the board. At the very least, workers are expecting more vigorous testing and increased availability of PPE to ensure everyone is able to work as safely as possible.
And, unsurprisingly, one of the primary changes many are seeking for is a change in pay. With current salaries simply not reflecting the skill required by those in the role, or the long hours worked, a change could be coming that sees all workers receiving equal to or over the living wage.
And then there is the long-awaited green paper, promised back in 2017. A promise of lifetime social care changes that have not yet transpired. Care providers and local authorities will certainly be met with even more challenges over the months ahead. They have had to face a crisis head-on, while already being seriously underfunded and challenged.
There is concern of how these local authorities will be able to continue to meet their statutory duties over the coming months, and we can only hope the green paper is imminent in its arrival.
Lessons have certainly been learnt and surely this will help to shape the changes that are needed for a sector that is at the centre of our populations’ health, wellbeing and survival.
Despite the pandemic almost crippling the health and social care sector, it could just be the thing that saves it.
To find out how HAS technology has been supporting the care sector during COVID-19 visit the COVID-19 Support page, which summarises the CM, ARMED and PAMMS responses.