Express & Star comment: Social care sector needs overhaul

For many years it has been clear that Britain’s social care sector has required root and branch reform.

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock

Staff in care homes have become used to being paid low wages. Many of them will talk of how they feel undervalued, working long hours in a testing environment, often without the resources they need to do the job.

But while successive governments have spoken of bringing in changes to a system that is no longer fit for purpose, they have always been put off by the monumental financial costs associated with reform.

Following the election victory last year Boris Johnson’s administration appeared to recognise that changes were long overdue, but any plans have been overtaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

In the space of six weeks our care homes have been plunged into an unprecedented crisis. Care England says elderly people have been “abandoned” to the illness, unable to see a GP and refused hospital care. Tragically, social distancing rules mean that many of them cannot see their loved ones as they near their final hours.

Meanwhile homes have been unable to provide staff with adequate PPE, many of whom are still unable to access testing.

Now it appears that many care homes across the West Midlands are struggling to get hold of vital government funding, pushing some to the brink of closure. This cash could serve as a lifeline at a time when costs are rising exponentially.

With each council allocating money in different ways, on too many occasions the funding is not being received by those who need it the most.

To their credit, some local authorities have responded to the criticisms levelled at them and are now working tirelessly to make payments as soon as possible. Others have written to providers directly with offers of financial support, while councils have also stepped in to help with supplying protective equipment.

It is imperative that the needs of the social care sector are met as the deadly outbreak of Covid-19 continues to ravage our care homes.

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