From the outside it’s easy to have a distorted, or even gloomy, picture of social care. The stories that make the press are the ones where standards of care have fallen way below the acceptable, or of care homes in severe financial difficulties.
These stories are obviously a concern, and there’s no doubt that the sector faces challenges. But the real picture of day-in, day-out care is more cheerful and optimistic.
There are nearly 1.6m people employed in adult social care. The stories that make the press represent a minuscule fraction of that workforce. People are not drawn to the sector because of the financial rewards, they do the job because they are caring and motivated by wanting to help people.
A healthy and functioning society can rightly be judged by how well it takes care of its vulnerable and less able members. The care workforce is the vital part of the infrastructure that delivers this support. They often work in difficult circumstances and deserve our respect.
As people live longer we cannot have a functional society that claims to be compassionate without a healthy and properly funded care service. It really is time that both central and local government took a serious look at the level of fees they need to pay to ensure we can deliver sustainable, high quality and person-centred care for everyone who needs it.