Apr 20

COVID-19 putting a spotlight on social care

Posted: 9 April 2020

Care provider Sophie Chester-Glyn talks about what her team at Manor Community are doing to deal with COVID-19 and what implications the current crisis might have for the social care workforce

 I received a call from a colleague: “We’ve had another staff member self-isolate. Her husband is showing symptoms”.

Whilst trying to stay calm, it was difficult not to panic at the thought of yet another team member out of action. Luckily our fantastic staff team stepped up to the challenge - covering shifts where they were needed, and putting the people we support at ease by providing seamless care.

Our registered managers have had a particularly testing time, reassuring staff who were confused by government guidance and managing discussions with family members when one of our homes restricted visiting due to an increased risk to people who live there.

Despite the lack of PPE, care staff are continuing to provide support for people in need. They ensure people have enough food and medicines, even if that means driving around several pharmacies to find one with the right stocks, or queuing for hours to get into a supermarket. Some staff, despite having their own health vulnerabilities, still want to help others. The people I work with are the most caring and selfless people I know.

This made me think how the social care sector needs more support both ‘now’ and in the ‘future’.

To help my local sector ‘now’, I have started holding conference calls with local providers using Zoom. Over 100 providers join every Wednesday including solicitors, health professionals, local authorities and CQC to update us on the latest COVID-19 plans.

The feedback has been fantastic. The calls allow us to discuss our issues together and enable local authorities to understand what we are going through. It has also helped personalise the issues we face. Providers and managers have also said this helps them feel that they’re not alone in dealing with COVID-19 pressures.

In the ‘long-term’ I would like to see greater parity between health and social care. Compared to our colleagues in the healthcare sector, pay, pensions, benefits and qualifications in social care are often seen as less structured and developed.

The current COVID-19 crisis has really put the spotlight on this as the social care workforce is required to be just as available as our NHS colleagues. Yet it seems to me that we are often considered far down the pecking order when it comes to PPE, training and testing.

So I decided to start a petition so that when the time is right, and if we can get 100,00 signatures, parliament will discuss how we can improve the support we provide for our social care workforce.

Social care professionals are doing a fantastic job during COVID-19 and I’ve never more proud to be working in this sector.