Clap For Carers Must Be Followed Up With Action

We have all witnessed or better still participated in the clap for carers initiative which has grown out of the current crisis. I am sure that the carers themselves are lifted by our support. However what they really need is practical help, something that the government has been slow in coming up with. 

Britain’s carers have been getting a raw deal for decades, they have very poor working conditions and the system they work in is broken. When I was a regular visitor to a care home five years ago staff shortages were a daily feature and shortages of basic equipment a fact of life. Despite that the workers did their best with a smile on their faces treating the residents with kindness. When someone passed away they were visibly upset. These ladies were simply amazing and I regularly told them so.

Now Coronavirus has struck the acute inadequacies of the care system have been cruelly exposed. In this situation residents will be needing more attention from an already overstretched workforce, shortages of equipment will be putting lives at risk and the sheer scale of deaths must have an impact on the mental wellbeing of staff.   

This Conservative government appears to have no answer to this situation and should be slammed for its failure to address the issues that have been raised in public debate throughout their time in office. All carers whether they be family, home or residential have been getting a raw deal for years.

The same also goes for the elderly and vulnerable people they look after. So when this is all over we need a national campaign to address this. That means a living wage for all of those employed in care, a decent level of carers allowance for family carers, national standards established for training, breaks, time off, staffing levels and a charter of rights. Personally I believe that these reforms can only come by bringing social care under the NHS as a public service. 

Most important of all I don’t want to see our carers forgotten once the current crisis is over. So by all means clap for carers but in the future join me in a campaign to improve things on a permanent basis.

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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  • @ Freddie “The majority of care services in the UK are purchased by councils – which could require these things as part of the contract. Thoughts?”

    Yes, Freddie, and uncomfortable ones. As a Lib Dem Convenor of Social Care I was involved in such contracts. Central government (of which this party was part) funding to councils was cut to the bone between 2010-15. It led to a race to the bottom in contract competition and downward pressure on wages and staffing levels.

    The Independent reported, “Local councils have seen their central government funding halved in the era of austerity and are now on the verge of financial breaking point, according to a new report by the National Audit Office (NAO).

    Parliament’s official spending watchdog said that, even as grants have been slashed as part of the Government’s drive to eradicate the deficit since 2010, demand for councils’ services, particularly adult social care, has continued to rise, putting them under extreme pressure. Councils have been forced to dip into their financial reserves to fund their care commitments and the NAO estimates that if local authorities keep draining their savings at the current rate one in 10 will have exhausted them in just three years’ time.”

    The answer to your question, Freddie, comes far too close to home for comfort. I now judge political parties by what they do, not what they say.. On a different level, local government employees used to form a major part of Lib Dem support. Not anymore … the party’s present dire situation is the result.

  • The weekly reports about how celebs, MPs and ministers (including Johnson), most of whom view the NHS as for ‘ordinary’ people, clap annoys me..These same MPs applauded the refusal to allow the same NHS workers a small pay increase; that is the test of their ‘appreciation’!

    You talk o’ PPE for us, an’ bonuses and pay:
    We’ll wait for extry money if you treat us right todayl.
    Don’t mess about with pointless claps, but prove it to our face
    The Nurse’s Uniform is not an orphan child’s disgrace.

    Apologies to Kipling..

  • The country must not be allowed to forget where the blame should lie after many years of terrible neglect of the NHS and social care services and most importantly the people who work in these much undermined and underpaid professions. Thank goodness for people like you Ruth!

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