Dr Chai Patel CBE FRCP, founder of HC-One and previous owner of Care Management Group, Priory Group and Westminster Care, has set out a clear five-point plan for the Government and sector to reform and reward social carers, in comments published today in The Times.
Despite the heroic efforts of everyone working in social care, the coronavirus pandemic has shone a spotlight on some of the existing challenges facing the sector, particularly the widespread public misunderstanding of care work.
For 35 years, Dr Patel has been an advocate for the vital contribution of the social care workforce, culminating in the launch of his Careforce initiative in 2017. Dr Patel’s new five-point plan is clear on the action that must be taken, and includes:
- The Government must publish a detailed and actionable social care workforce plan.
- An independent representative body for social carers, run by social carers must be created. This should follow the model of the various nursing and medical Royal Colleges in being an apolitical, evidence-led champion for social carers.
- The skills and qualification needed for the sector now, and in the future, must be defined, with clear, mandatory requirements at every career stage.
- A clearly structured cross-sector career pathway must be created, that breaks down the barriers between the caring professions, interlinking social carers with nursing and social work.
- The Government must provide the long-term funding settlement needed to ensure social carers can have their pay and benefits improved to reflect the professionalisation of the role.
Through the delivery of this plan it is hoped that those working within the care sector will have higher levels of job security, satisfaction, and remuneration, as well as a clearer purpose and vision within their careers. This will improve the experience of those receiving care and help evoke greater respect for care workers in our society more generally.
Dr Chai Patel CBE FRCP, commented:
“I have always been passionate about rewarding the vital contribution of the social care workforce, and this has been the motivation behind creating the ‘Careforce’ initiative several years ago.
“The coronavirus pandemic has shown how important social carers are to not just the people they support, but to our NHS and our society. It is therefore high time this contribution is recognised, and the institutional and structural changes needed to professionalise the workforce are undertaken.
“This includes clearer training, qualification and career pathways, as well as interlinking care work with nursing, social work, and broader NHS roles. Social carers should then benefit from higher salaries, improved terms and conditions, clearer career progression opportunities, and the knowledge that their peers are held to account through a transparent code of conduct and ethics.
“Our national Careforce has been left behind for too long. It is critically important that Government urgently revises its approach to social care in the months and years ahead once this crisis is over. Social care has been a politically inconvenient topic for too long, and now must be the time to grasp the nettle and deliver the meaningful reform that has long been promised.”