Do you remember the time all we were talking about was Brexit? Seems like a lifetime ago in this current climate!
Back then, our work with the Care Provider Alliance (CPA) was preparing the care sector for the UK leaving the EU. The results of the general election and the subsequent EU Withdrawal Bill was soon overshadowed by events in Wuhan of the potential spread of COVID-19 to international shores.
Infection prevention and control is something all too familiar in the care sector and I've ran a number of health promotion campaigns on this to have a thorough understanding of the process. However, the Coronavirus was something very different. As a novel infection, little was known about the contagion other than that those at most risk were people with an underlying health condition and older people - pretty much the entire social care sector since the majority of people receiving care and support would fall into one of these two categories!
From as early as January social care providers started raising concerns about the potential risk of the infection on people supported by the sector, seeking advice on what steps should be taken to keep people safe - both staff and the people using services.
Fast forward to the end of May 2020 and we are all too familiar with the tragic news headlines of the number of deaths in care homes and indeed the tragic death toll in the entire country.
We knew early on the risks of the virus to older people and those with underlying health conditions, yet government focus, resources and attention failed to give parity to the social care sector in comparison to the efforts that were made to protect the NHS.
There is much that could be said, and no doubt a public inquiry will bring to light the key issues, failings and lessons learnt from managing this pandemic, but one thing is very clear - ongoing investment and a clear strategic framework is urgently needed in social care. The need for reform and recognition of the social care sector, and the vital role it plays in supporting the NHS to manage peoples’ health and care needs as never been so pronounced. The question is, will the easing of lockdown bring a return to ‘business as usual’, or will government officials take the opportunity and ‘fix’ social care once and for all.
For more information about the Care Provider Alliance and its work to represent the adult social care sector during the COVID-19 outbreak click here.