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Valuing Our Social Care Heroes

In this blog post our Policy and Communications Officer, Hefin Rees Edwards, explains what the Social Care Heroes campaign is about, and why Cymorth Cymru are proud to be supporting it. 

Introduction

Cymorth Cymru represents a wide variety of organisations from across homelessness, housing support and supported living. Our members provide help and support across Wales to the people who need it the most.

Although our members’ work has always been incredibly important, the outbreak of Covid-19 has demonstrated even further how vital their work is to the health and wellbeing of society. Their staff are also putting themselves at greater risk during this time, as many are classified as key workers and still go into work every day to support others rather than socially distancing at home.

Social Care & Covid-19

Whilst the NHS and other health services have received lots of attention during the pandemic, and rightly so, it is important not to forget about the 70,000+ (1) people across Wales working in the social care sector. Staff in this sector work in a variety of contexts, such as caring for older people in residential settings, to supporting others who need daily care visits in their own home. Particularly for Cymorth Cymru, support and care staff also work in supported living settings, which are technically defined as domiciliary care, but with a very different model of care and support.

Supported living providers work with individuals with learning disabilities and other complex needs, usually in fixed, permanent residences. Whilst not on the ‘front line’ of an NHS ICU ward, staff from these organisations play an important part in protecting the health of these individuals, and in turn the rest of us as a whole. We’re not talking about a small number of people either. For instance, 1479 people are supported across just eight of our supported living member organisations alone (2).  

The type of care which takes place in supported living is usually supportive and emotional, for example; it could be having a simple chat with someone about their day, or offering a helping hand with tasks such as cooking and cleaning. Their work is geared towards helping people live full and independent lives. In the age of Covid-19, this also now includes helping people understand social distancing measures, setting up disinfection and exercise routines, and even helping people adjust to the use of PPE, which can be strange and unsettling for many.

These aren’t trivial matters either: research suggests (3,4) that those with learning disabilities are of a higher risk of dying from Covid 19 than the general population. The low rates of transmission and lack of mortalities amongst our supported living members is testament to the work being done in helping to protect the people they support. This also extends to protecting the family and friends of people who use services, because without the service provided by the supported living sector, it would fall to them to care for these individuals directly. This is very often unfeasible, especially if people’s friends and family are vulnerable themselves and are shielding from Coronavirus.

These services and the workforce also need to work hard to keep people from feeling isolated, and over the past few months have worked so hard to find new ways of keeping people in touch with families and friends, helping embrace hobbies and interests, and avoid the hugely negative impacts of isolation and loneliness.

The service that staff provide also helps reduces community transmission of the virus, particularly with individuals with learning disabilities who, without the right support, may find it harder to follow social distancing and other preventative measures. The prevention of community transmission as a result of the work from the sector demonstrates how staff are not only protecting the people they support directly, but also the wider population as a whole.

The Social Care Heroes Campaign

The Covid-19 pandemic has revealed what we have known all along, which is that workers in the supported living and the wider social care sector are not ‘unskilled’ or ‘low skilled’ and are actually doing incredibly important work. However, working in this sector isn’t glamourous; it very often consists of long, tiring days in tough circumstances, and it is work which has traditionally been underappreciated and underpaid.

This is why the Social Care Heroes campaign is necessary. The campaign is about putting staff front and centre, highlighting what they do and making sure they get the recognition they deserve.

Social Care Heroes is a social media campaign, which is asking people who use services, their family and friends as well as organisations themselves, to shine a light on the amazing work being done by staff from all areas of the social care sector. The goal is to showcase staff and their work, saying loud and clear that we value them and we want others to recognise that.

The campaign wants people to share examples of their ‘Social Care Heroes’ through pictures, video, drawings, and however else people want to express themselves.

There have already been massive demonstrations of support across Wales, such as the weekly Thursday clap for NHS and care workers.  The Social Care Heroes campaign wants to showcase this same solidarity and build upon the public goodwill which the pandemic has generated towards the sector.

We here at Cymorth are proud to be backing the campaign, and we’re also asking you, our members, from across all sectors to get involved. If you know of a friend or a loved one who works in the sector, why not write a post about the hard work they’ve been putting in? If you know someone who uses services, introduce them to the campaign as they can share the impact of staff’s work on their lives directly.

Even if you have no connection to the sector, you can still participate by sharing the stories of others on social media, helping to amplify the campaign’s message.

You can download the campaign materials here, which includes an information pack full of tips and practical suggestions for social media content, as well as some campaign graphics to get you started. Don’t forget to use the campaign hashtag #SocialCareHeroes to show your affiliation with the campaign every time you post.  

Let’s raise up our amazing care workers, let’s show how much we value them, and let’s make sure to carry this message on into the future for others to see.

Cymorth Cymru also represents housing and homelessness organisations, and we believe that this workforce also needs recognition. This is just one element of our work, and we will continue championing the work of our members whose workers are in hostels, supported accommodation, night shelters, refuges, and a whole range of services that are sometimes, sadly, overlooked.

Access the Campaign Pack: Link here

References:

(1)   https://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/news-item/what-does-the-social-care-workforce-look-like-across-the-four-countries#_Wales_1

(2)   Cymorth Cymru data

(3)   https://twitter.com/LastDaysoflifeR/status/1262641138374045699?s=20

(4)   https://www.independent.co.uk/news/health/coronavirus-learning-disability-nhs-england-mencap-a9522746.html

 

 

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© Cymorth Cymru 2020
Company Registration No: 5093332
Charity No: 1116774