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The Future of Care – Manchester Care Event

We recently held the third in our series of ‘The Future of Care’ discussions; this time in Manchester. Our expert chair, Bhavna Keane-Rao, was joined by our panel: Caroline Roberts (director of care and compliance at Welltower Inc); Adrian Berry (partner specialising in restructuring services at Deloitte LLP); Chris Ball (director of Maria Mallaband Care Group); and Ann Gallagher (professor of ethics and care at the University of Surrey).

The discussion began with an introduction of Ann’s article published in The Guardian which focuses on the issue of ‘careism’ in the sector. The article is based on research from the RIPE (Researching Interventions to Promote Ethics in social care) project on how ethics education can be used to better prepare workers in providing residential care and how best to educate care workers in ethics. Careism is felt to exist on three levels:

  • at an individual level, residents and their relatives are often unappreciative of the care that they and their families receive;
  • on an organisational level, care workers are not rewarded proportionately for the work they do; and
  • on a political and societal level the value of care and the need for investment is under-valued.

Our panel discussed the reasons why recruiting care workers has become so difficult. In particular, does the reason that few people want to be carers boil down to remuneration or do people just not want to be carers? In a competitive labour market (with supermarkets offering more money and better hours than care jobs) often the humanitarian side of care is just not enough. In addition to pay, care workers face other difficulties in the amount of time it takes to become a carer (due to record checks, training etc.) and the risk of backlash if any mistakes are made on the job (sometimes leading to police questioning).

One thing is true, with a lack of funding in the sector we need to find new and innovative ways to attract care workers and keep them in the profession. A variety of suggestions were made by both the panel and audience from having more workers rights for carers (unions, sick pay, salaries, clear progression etc.) to championing workers with specialist training and niche titles (such as ‘Dignity Champions’) to make workers feel more valued.

Ann Gallagher ended on a positive message to those in the sector that, whatever the answer is to how best to recruit and maintain care staff, we all need to celebrate good care. Awards for staff and naming those who make a difference to residents’ lives, could make all the difference to someone feeling the effects of ‘careism’.

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