As the general election looms, at Valicity, we have been thinking about what we would like to see in the parties’ manifestos. Social care is regularly reported as an underfunded service which falls between service providers and as a result means those who need it most don’t receive vital support. We have three asks which will improve not just social care but society more widely. Over the next two weeks, before Thursday 12 December, we will share each of these.
First is to give care workers better recognition. Care workers perform vital tasks which not only improve the lives of those they support but in many cases actually makes living independently – and thus less reliant on other public services – possible. It is a difficult job which requires patience, the ability to love the unlovable and the highest level of professionalism. Yet care workers are not well paid. Nor do they receive lots of benefits. They may not even get training and career development from their employer.
At Valicity we believe this needs to change. As an employer we pay all our staff the living wage; as a minimum. We believe this brings added value to the services we provide by ensuring we can recruit engaged staff who can see by this commitment, we respect the work they do and are prepared to pay them fairly. We pay over and above the London Living Wage to attract the best staff. This helps reduce absenteeism and sick leave. Introducing the London Living Wage has also boosted staff morale and productivity. Our staff are committed to looking after our service users which means that service users benefit from attentive, motivated and competent staff.
We make sure our people have access to training to gain new skills. We look to grow our own talent, giving our brilliant employees opportunities to step up to take on new responsibilities. Again, this shows our commitment to our staff and in return our staff demonstrate their commitment to us – and most importantly to our service users.
Our way of delivering care services has wider benefits too. First, our staff who are recruited from the local community, bring home a good salary with which to support their families. This reduces the stress of hidden domestic care for our employees. If they have younger children or older family members, they can afford appropriate care for them too. Secondly, our service users are supported effectively to become more independent and in many cases, volunteer or find work locally. Thirdly, the families and friends of our service users are reassured that their loved one is being supported to achieve more, are happier and, in time, will become independent.
We make this model work through diligent, and careful, management. But increased funding from government would relieve pressure on us as service providers. More than this this, it would show care workers that their skills, experience, patience and care are appreciated by our country.