The social care sector is all about its people. They are the beating heart of our industry; fantastic and dedicated professionals who care for the most vulnerable in society. As leaders in the care sector, we have a duty to ensure that each and every one of these people feels valued and supported in their work. At the CareTech Foundation, our mission is to support and champion the social care sector, care workers and those living in care – that is why we have recently launched our #ChampioningSocialCare social media campaign.
We know the care sector faces challenges, but the Beating Heart of Care report recently published by the Care Workers’ Charity reveals that carers aren’t getting the support they need. As a whole society, we need to be doing more to fulfil our duty to those who care for our loved ones.
One of the most striking details of the Care Workers Charity’s report is the finding that resources and support lines for care workers are so inaccessible to them, despite there being numerous free and reputable sources of support available. This rings true with our own experience at the CareTech Foundation of providing support to care workers.
At the CareTech Foundation, we offer support mechanisms and hardship grants to care workers in times of crisis, but we see many cases where individuals could have avoided crisis situations altogether if they’d been able to access support at an earlier stage. We need to work with HR teams to make such support more accessible, so that care workers know how they can get support and ensure there is no stigma attached to asking for help. Too often there is a failure of communication across the sector as a whole and it is affecting our carers and their families immensely.
Issues such as these weigh down on morale in the sector. It is a sad truth that care workers, who spend so much time looking after the needs of others, often don’t do enough to look after themselves. We must be conscious that the work our carers do can take a real toll on their mental well-being. The Care Workers Charity’s report includes first-hand experiences of how care workers feel that they lack support networks, with bereavement in particular having a hugely damaging impact on carers. Without support, they often feel that they have to face issues alone and the report tells us that this can create a vicious cycle. Carers going through emotional strain themselves begin to doubt the quality of the care they are providing and this in turn further affects morale and mental well-being.
The Beating Heart of Care report sheds light on just how challenging the issues facing the care sector are, but it also shows that there are some simple practical steps we can all take that will really make a difference. What is particularly encouraging is that many of the recommendations of the report don’t require a huge financial outlay to be put into place; the most effective solutions are often the simplest. For example, we can learn from the fantastic work in other sectors of creating peer support networks so that carers know that they have someone to talk to. Peer support programmes could have a major impact on the sector, building resilience throughout the network and ensuring that carers going through tough times don’t have to face them alone.
The report also makes a clear and compelling case for enhanced support, training and development of managers in the care sector, who’s influence on the well-being of their teams and the extent to which they feel supported to do their jobs well is so critical. If we can help more individuals to see a clear career path in social care in which they are supported and developed, we will build a bank of expertise, improve well-being, boost retention and – as so many other sectors have learned – reduce costs in the long-term.
These are measures that all care providers, big or small, can implement inexpensively and the benefits for carers, those they care for, and their families, will be immeasurable. The call for action in this impressive report is clear and powerful and we at the CareTech Foundation have no hesitation in lending our support to the Care Worker’s Charity in spearheading this change.