Show Social Care a little love this winter.
Last week the county council launched its first ever dedicated campaign about Social Care.
The campaign is designed to help the public understand more about the Social Care sector in Suffolk, how the various partners and organisations work together to provide care for people, celebrate the amazing care professionals that work in the sector and ask the public for a little patience and flexibility as we all navigate through one of the toughest winters any of us can remember.
Adult Social Care in Suffolk is made up of a close partnership of different organisations including local councils, NHS Trusts, and several private care providers who, when taken together, employ around 22,000 individuals countywide. On any given day the sector supports over 9,500 people to live independently for longer whilst enjoying their lives to the fullest. The sector faces considerable challenges however, including the recruitment and retention of key workers, the increasing complexity of care packages and the ongoing impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, especially on care homes, home care and front-line workers.
To try and demonstrate how busy the sector is, every day the county council's Customer First contact centre handles, on average, over 551 phone calls, webchats, or emails from people about adult social care. On Christmas Day alone, there will be around 1,200 care home staff working hard to ensure that the 5,662 people currently living in Residential or Nursing Homes in Suffolk get to enjoy a good Christmas. Then, on top of that, there are the 3,000 or so home care workers who will be out and about across Suffolk, offering help and support to people who are receiving care within their own homes. Therefore, it is so important that we all show the Social Care sector a little love and support this winter. Please be patient when contacting any Social Care service. They are all working as hard as they can to provide essential support for people. They will do their best to answer you and provide the best care possible as quickly as they can.
I also hope that this campaign will change the way we think and talk about those people who have made working in Social Care their career and passion. Too often those working in the sector are either incorrectly swept up and talked about as if being part of the NHS or worse, forgotten about in conversations entirely. These incredible people have made the choice to dedicate their working lives to the care of others. Whether social workers, mental health practitioners, occupational therapists, home care workers, care home and nursing home staff, and every other role I don’t have space here to list - all of them, together, deserve our praise and thanks for the value they bring to people's lives, and our wider community (and yes – I think they should be paid more too). But, to start with, I invite you to join with me in challenging anyone you see or hear using words like "unskilled" to describe anyone working in Social Care. Ask them to stop, think, and then try again - because of all the words we could use to describe these wonderful people, “unskilled” is certainly not one of them. They are professional care givers and need to be treated with the respect they deserve.
I know that changing perceptions can take time, but we must make a start, and that start is this new campaign.
You can get involved very easily. To start with show your support for Social Care by sharing the council’s posts on your own social media, using the hashtag #SupportSocialCare. You can help by being a little bit patient when contacting Social Care. Or go further and offer to collect an elderly neighbour’s prescription or just by pay them a visit to see how they are.
However you decide to get involved, please show Social Care a little love this winter.