Action is needed
For the first time ever, social care has taken centre stage in public awareness. To be sure the concerns are focused on older people in care homes and the death toll there, and those supported in their own homes remain under the radar. However, the whole notion of shielding people who are vulnerable, of noticing those in most need or at most risk, is a powerful new phenomenon. The upsurge in community action, volunteers seeking those who need help and support, food distribution, creative measures put in place to support the homeless or those escaping from domestic abuse – all unthinkable as recently as February 2020. There is a massive opportunity to make the changes needed in the provision of social and community care. More funding is only a part of the answer. The system itself needs to change radically and fundamentally.
Improving the pay and working conditions of care and support workers, restoring community infrastructure, moving away from the profit motive for care service providers, and addressing the ‘catastrophic’ costs of residential care, are imperatives which require a long-term cross party political solution.