Sector leaders have delivered their verdict on the government’s new action plan for social care during the coronavirus pandemic.
The action plan was unveiled by the health secretary Matt Hancock yesterday (15 April) and includes a promise of better access to testing, more PPE items and a new ‘brand’ for social care workers to unite under.
The brand will be based on the existing CARE badge, which was launched last year by Care England and the National Care Forum.
The action plan also outlines plans to expand the social care workforce by tens of thousands through a new recruitment campaign that will highlight the vital role of care staff, backed by a new online learning platform to rapidly upskill new staff.
In addition, the government said social care providers across England have already received an emergency drop of 7 million PPE items, so that every CQC registered care provider received at least 300 face masks to meet immediate needs.
Responding to the announcement, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s health and social care policy manager, Dr. Eleanor Roy said it will ‘do little to ease the pressures in social care being felt across the country’.
‘It’s time for the government to stop treating social care like the poor relation and provide this critical sector, which cares for the most vulnerable people in society, with the resources it requires,’ said Dr. Roy.
‘A shiny new badge simply doesn’t cut it,’ she added.
The general secretary of the trade union Unison, Dave Prentis said while raising the status of the social care ‘brand’ is welcome, it must be backed by a long-term commitment to better pay.
‘There must also be a move away from the fragmented and underfunded system that was already in crisis before the pandemic hit,’ said Mr Prentis.
And the County Councils Network’s health and social care spokesman, Cllr David Fothergill, said the strategy must be backed by a ‘further injection of funding’.
‘While supplies of PPE have improved in recent weeks, we still have concerns that councils and care providers are not receiving the same priority as the NHS,’ said Cllr Fothergill.
‘The government must continue to work closely with councils and local resilience forums to improve both the supply and distribution this vital equipment.’
But the president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Julie Ogley, said any strategy will ‘ultimately be judged by actions it produces, not words it contains’.
‘This is a welcome first step towards recognising, prioritising and enabling colleagues working across social care to do their critical work to keep us all safe,’ said Ms Ogley.
‘We owe it to them to implement it in full.’
Photo Credit – PublicDomainPictures (Pixabay)