Shropshire Star comment: Social care system is broken

Problems facing social care have been on the agenda of a small number for a long time.

The care home system is broken.
The care home system is broken.

It has been abundantly clear that the system is broken. Social services and the NHS have played ping-pong with the elderly, trying to make them the responsibility of one another because they do not have the funds to pay for their care.

Those who work in social care have been looked down upon. Only this spring, noises from the Government made it clear that workers were viewed as being unskilled. How quickly things have changed.

Now the value of low-paid workers in the care sector is known. They help to save lives, provide dignity and ensure care for society’s most vulnerable people. They are no longer taken for granted, nor overlooked.

Yet it has taken an earthquake for them to be recognised. The Government made errors in sending infectious people into social care homes during the early part of the pandemic. Those errors were compounded by a lack of PPE available to care homes, as the focus turned exclusively to the NHS. Problems deepened as insufficient testing led to the transmission of Covid-19 to those who could and should have been protected. The lives lost in our social care sector are a source of national shame. While Care Minister Helen Whately has defended the indefensible by suggesting things have not been as bad as they were in Spain, the fact is we have failed our elderly. It is time for urgent reform.

The lessons that led to an outbreak of death in our care homes must be learned. Those who reside there must do so safely. We must not taken for granted people who work in homes.

There must be greater funding. Care homes bring huge value to society and that must be reflected in a greater share of the public purse. They ought to work far more closely with the NHS and be assured of resources and support.

Better systems can be put in place and there should be improved integration. Covid-19 has cost too many lives and exposed the shortcomings in our social care system. The failings to protect vulnerable citizens must be a watershed moment. It must never happen again.

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