Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The real scandal in social care

I've always thought that an essential in any good system of social care provision is content staff.

Too often we ignore their needs and treat them as if they are invisible even if we're in the same room and I'll admit here that I've been as guilty as anyone else on a social services training course when the room divides into carers on one side and 'professionals' on the other. A few ex-colleagues of mine had worked, or even continued to work as carers, but this aside there was always to my view an element of snobbishness and power imbalance present in the many interactions between ourselves and carers.

Though a few of us did speak out about the conditions faced by carers it was a topic well down the list for us, far below issues like personalisation, or even the personality politics of the department.

But the treatment of carers is so integral to the system it should be the only issue we're talking about. Why? Well we really need to look at this holistically. If we want a system based on dignity and respect then that standard needs to apply to everyone. If care staff are treated with dignity and respect then we can in turn expect service users to be treated the same. Turning an indifferent eye to care staff being paid below the minimum wage endangers our ideals as much as mistreatment in a care home.