Inquiry into social care could be a catalyst for cultural change
Ollie Heptinstall Local Democracy Reporting Service
- Credit: Unsplash
An inquiry into the shortage of social care staff in Devon will take place this Friday.
Around 2,000 adult social care vacancies remain unfilled across the county, with the councillor responsible warning that 'there simply aren’t enough people coming forward'.
Health leaders, care providers and local political leaders will get together in Exeter to hear the first-hand experiences of care workers and their employers, and discuss how to address the shortage.
The inquiry, that will also celebrate the work of the 30,000 care workers in Devon, comes as the county council warned that care firms are finding it increasingly difficult to meet demand, with some even handing back cases because they are unable to fulfil them.
People are having to wait longer for care, and those already receiving home visits are seeing changes because care providers are having to juggle increasing caseloads.
Councillor James McInnes, cabinet member for adult social care, thinks there needs to be a cultural change on how the profession is viewed. He said: “I think the NHS has been absolutely brilliant through the pandemic and everybody recognises that, but the other side of the equation is how brilliant those in adult social care have been.
"We need to rebalance. We need to be congratulating the whole system and those people that work in adult social care really do need to be appreciated just as much as those who work in the NHS.”
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Cllr McInnes said the council plans to work with Devon’s MPs to change the national mood on the issue, adding that the Government is 'still reluctant to put those in adult social care on an equal footing in terms of their importance, and you can’t talk about the NHS without talking about adult social care'.
He accepts wages need to go up, along with 'changing the dynamics' in the industry – such as more training to produce a better-qualified workforce and enable more people to view social care as a long-term career.
He said: “It is going to be difficult. This isn’t just issuing a press release and do a few interviews and everything’s going to change. This is going to be a cultural change that’s actually going to take place over a number of years.”