Our Adult Social Social Care system is in crisis
In light of recent comments made by the Red Cross about them supporting A&Es, the BBC is quoting that:
“NHS England said plans were in place to deal with winter pressure and beds were not as full as this time last year”
This is simply not true.
I am a front-line service manager of a hospital social work team and in 8 year of working this area I have never seen it so bad.
My team are the social workers who meet families at their lowest, when their most loved ones are in their dying days. Those who were happily going about their lives when crisis struck and now they’re facing illness, dying and the loss of who they once were.
My staff are the ones who are tasked with assessing support levels and what care a person needs to help them ideally return home, or move into care placements at a cost to not only to the loved one who has paid their taxes and fought for Queen and country, but also potentially themselves on third party contributions to the care home that can barely break even because the local councils pay less than half of what it costs to care for people.
My staff are the ones who assess a person’s Mental Capacity to make decisions about all manner of life, who investigate safeguarding issues when abuse happens and our clients come through A&E because of it.
My staff are the ones who get pushed to their limits, who are expected to complete extensive detailed assessments within the same day so that the client can hopefully leave hospital sometime this month (because same day discharge is near impossible).
My staff are the ones who get repeatedly spoken to by fellow professionals like they are the lowest of the low because we bear the brunt of everyone’s frustration at the total lack of community services meaning acute beds are blocked.
Acute beds that are fewer than ever, in hospitals that are more grossly understaffed than ever before.
Acute beds that hold the most complex and frail co-morbidities in patients’ health issues because modern medicine keeps people living longer and longer.
And yet…… my staff are the ones who keep coming in, working all the hours, and somehow finding a positivity in the midst it all.
I worry though that we are too close to these wonderful people breaking and leaving not only their job, but the profession entirely.
Health and Social Care colleagues are being slowly but surely broken.
The NHS itself is slowly dying, and having pushed it to the edge of the end, the Government appears to now be sealing the deal by failing to invest in and support social care.
The pressure and pace is such that patients are undoubtedly placed at risk from harm (at the very least) because decisions are rushed, and mistakes are made.
I am scared for my future, that of my colleagues across Health and Social Care, but most importantly the future of all the people we work with.
We don’t need plans from NHS England, we need them to listen to those at the front-line who are living, breathing and crying this every day.
We need action and we need funds to support this, not cuts.
Not more cuts.
“Winter Pressures” are no longer a ‘thing’- the crisis is year-round and if we are to keep people safe at all, something has to change
Care staff are paid close to minimum wage on a zero hours’ basis.
Agencies and homes can’t afford to pay them more because Councils pay them so little, but then the agencies can’t recruit so rotas can’t be covered and people can’t go home from hospital because there is no care.
It’s all very simple. Invest more money in the sector, respect the professions for what they are and let us do our job in a way that not only protects people but supports their choice and basic rights to live in a way they wish.
In recent days, I have struggled to find words to explain how it feels to be in the hospitals that are so utterly broken, but enraged, devastated and beyond angry are a start.
People need to realise just how bad it is, and the message needs to be understood – over-attendance at A&E doesn’t help, but pushing the blame onto people seeking help risks moving away from a crisis years in the making that the Government has allowed to happen.
It’s time to stand up for all Social Work and all of those who we work for, and that includes us hospital Social Workers who are so often forgotten about.