Voluntary sector can play a part to help ease staff shortages in social care

ladies talking to each other during a coffee morning

Enjoying a brew and chat - Credit: Seachange

We are all getting older. It happens every day. Yet, for some reason, we never seem to contemplate how we would like to live and be treated when we are much older. Life is so busy we almost simply don’t have time to stop and think.

If we stop and think for a second, we know that nearly half a million of us will end up living out our days in a care home. We know that health and social care is vastly underfunded. We know that at the current time especially, care homes face immense difficulty recruiting staff. It is thought staffing levels in care homes in the UK are 30% less than needed, and this figure is continuing to rise.

Would you like to live in a home with such staff shortages? The current staff I know will try their very hardest to ensure the environment is safe and welcoming but that still leaves a gap. A gap where the once routine services and activities are not completed. A gap that older people fall into through no fault of their own.

We don’t want this gap to still be there when we are older, so what can we do about it?

The voluntary sector needs to play a much bigger role and would love to do so. Although, I would caveat that it shouldn’t be used as social services on the cheap.

One small step we are taking is to introduce voluntary befrienders into care homes in East Devon. Linking up with Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust, we placed our first volunteers into a care home in Budleigh last recently. They will provide direct emotional support to those who are feeling isolated and perhaps lonely, in need of the social interactions we all take for granted. The role also gives great pride and builds the self-esteem of the volunteer.

Another route would be to help promote the amazing work staff in social care perform every single day. The initiative ‘Proud to Care’ is Devon wide and aims to do just that. They want to find out why the roles aren’t attracting the right staff, boost its profile and ultimately recruit more staff. The profession shouldn’t be looked down upon. Low wages are a fair part, but only part of the story. We all need to think more highly of social care staff and the role they play. You can start doing that today. 

If want to find out more visit: www.proudtocaredevon.org.uk. 
If you would like to volunteer with us please visit: www.seachangedevon.org or call 01395 446896 or email help@seachangedevon.org