Recently, UK Parliament announced that the House of Lords Social Care Committee will be publishing a major inquiry called ‘Lifting the veil: Removing the invisibility of adult social care’. The inquiry, which will be published later this year, will consider how the invisibility of social care impacts the lives of people who draw on care and support, as well as those who provide it.
At Options, we believe that it’s really important that the voices of people we support and our staff are heard, so we asked them to have their say about how the invisibility of social care impacts them.
‘My support worker makes me feel important‘.
‘It feels as though we’re belittled, and it makes the hard days even harder knowing that some people don’t think our job is worth much’.
These are just two of the many responses we received to our call for feedback in order to provide evidence for the inquiry. Last month, we sent a survey out to all of our staff asking them for their opinions, and then went to ‘Voices R Us’ to speak to people we support. We’d like to thank everybody who took the time to share their thoughts with us.
From the comments that were made, we were able to submit a full response to the Committee which we hope reflects the views we heard. The main points that were made were:
- We feel that one of the major problems facing social care is its invisibility which is made worse by a lack of understanding of the different parts of social care. People with learning disabilities and their support staff are particularly invisible in this wider system.
- We do not think that people with learning disabilities or their support staff are valued enough in society. We know that people’s lives can be changed by good support – this can change the public’s understanding of people with learning disabilities and what support work is all about.
- We need to shift the conversation away from ‘caring for people’ towards supporting people to live full lives. This will change the public’s ideas of what support work is, and challenge perceptions about people with learning disabilities.
- Changing this conversation must involve making sure there is enough money to recruit, develop and retain great staff. It also means making sure that there is enough money to support people to actively participate in, and contribute to, their communities.
- At Options, we believe there is a lot to be learned by listening to staff and people we support. Unfortunately, we do not see this reflected by our local authorities or government when it comes to deciding how social care is delivered.
- Finally, we know the work that our staff do is undervalued – this must change. The important and skilled work that our staff do is not reflected by the wages they receive. The way social care is funded and commissioned needs to be radically changed.
Once our submission has been accepted by the Committee we will be able to publish our response in full – so watch this space!