A new focus on social care
On 15th April, the Health Secretary, Matt Hancock launched the new Coronavirus adult social care action plan, outlining the Government’s intentions to support care workers and those receiving care in care homes and the community. Many carers rely on the support of such workers and will welcome this development. He also acknowledged the work of unpaid carers, especially at this time.
The Department of Health and Social Care’s report says:
We recognise the crucial role unpaid carers play. They make an invaluable difference to the lives of the people they support, and are an integral part of our health and social care system. At this time, their role is even more important. Social distancing requirements mean that unpaid carers are providing higher levels of support than they normally would and at the same time access to respite care is limited.
Unpaid carers’ longer-term health and wellbeing is critical to the continued sustainability of the social care system. We have published guidance to support unpaid carers, including advice on limiting the risk of COVID-19 infection, and what to do if it occurs. We are working with young carers to produce tailored advice that meets their needs.
Helen Walker, Chief Executive of Carers UK, welcomed some aspects of the report:
“At long last, the Government has recognised the role of the social care sector in this fight back against coronavirus.
“Social care is just as important in the national response, having nearly twice as many workers as the NHS, and further supported by as many as 8.8 million unpaid carers looking after family members and friends in homes. A plan for our sector should have come sooner.
“It’s good that testing and personal protective equipment (PPE) are now being prioritised for social care workers who need it most, but it is vital that it reaches them. There must also be enough for unpaid carers, some of whom are caring for extremely vulnerable people, including those who are shielding.
“It’s also right that the Government is working to ensure that people have the right to say goodbye to those who pass away, and this will be incredibly important for families looking after loved ones who are older, disabled or seriously ill.”