4 Steps Guest Blog: “It’s too easy to think that social care is about someone else. It’s about all of us”

Providers must have better resourcing to reflect the societal importance of our work in communities across Scotland, says Andrew Thomson, Deputy CEO of Carr Gomm

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others“.

George Orwell’s fusion of political and artistic purpose was always intended to have a wider application than simple political satire. Social care in Scotland can often feel ripe for satire, although there is nothing funny about systematic underappreciation and underfunding.

Inelegant tension exists throughout, and remains inexplicably embedded in, our system. The maxim from improvement science states that “every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets”, and we have a system that Derek Feeley describes as containing “unwarranted local variation, crisis intervention, a focus on inputs, a reliance on the market, and an undervalued workforce”.

Scottish Government policy sets the minimum adult social care wage. The Scottish Government and CoSLA decide the financial uplifts to cover the costs of the policy. Social care providers implement the policy and volubly articulate again the wider implications, failings, and consequences of the policy. We’ll do it all again next time too. Our system is designed to aggregate the underfunding and to ignore the cost-of-living crisis; we get poorer each time we go around. There is no sign of the powerful recognising that the social care system is increasingly unsustainable.

The Scottish Government has set the wage at £10.90/hr, or 104% of the statutory minimum wage. The Scottish Government sets the value of working in our sector. Practitioners working for local authorities or the NHS are excluded from the Government’s policy and are paid more than 20% more for undertaking equal work. All practitioners are equal, but

It feels like a lifetime ago that we clapped our hands on a Thursday night in acknowledgement of the essential work undertaken by key workers as Covid ravaged our lives and freedoms. We recognised the importance in society of those that care for others. It is too easy to think that social care is about someone else, but social care is relevant to our colleagues, our friends and families, our neighbours. Ourselves.

Every one of us has the right to live a full life. And every one of us should have the right to be supported by a practitioner that has been comprehensively inducted, continually developed, registered with a professional body, professionally qualified, scrutinised by an external regulator, and appropriately remunerated. We have all of the former, we simply need to recognise – as Feeley already has – the latter: that our workforce is undervalued.

As a first step, the First Minister has committed to raising the wages of frontline adult social care professionals to £12/hr. It’s a small step on the road towards appropriate remuneration, although thus far, the Scottish Government has not published a timeline and so we wait. I call on the First Minister to implement this improvement from 1 April 2023.

The oft-quoted, lazy narrative about social care is that it is broken. But Carr Gomm is not broken. The people we support are not broken. We simply need better resourcing to adequately reflect the societal importance of our essential work in communities throughout Scotland.

Andrew Thomson is Deputy Chief Executive of Carr Gomm, a leading social care and community development that supports over 3000 people a week across Scotland.

Find out more about our 4 Steps to Fair Work campaign and get involved.

News: 4 Steps to Fair Work campaign launched to bring step change in social care

New CCPS campaign amplifies voices of sector and civic society, urging the Scottish Government to pledge to invest and give hope of equality

The Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland today launches a national campaign calling on the Scottish Government to deliver Fair Work for Scotland’s not-for-profit social care staff.

The campaign draws on evidence from CCPS’s membership organisations about the acute pressures currently being faced by their services as a result of the Scottish Government’s base pay rate for staff of £10.90, which is leading to staff leaving the workforce and many services being jeopardised.

The initiative aims to influence Scottish Government to take 4 Steps to Fair Work for social care staff and announce a timetable for investment. The 4 Steps are:

1. Deal with pay inequality: As a first step, implement the promise of a minimum of £12 per hour for social care staff, starting from 1 April 2023.

2. Ensure equal pay for equal work: Apply pay uplifts to staff in all services, not just those in registered adult social care.

3. Value all staff who play their part: Deliver funding packages that value the crucial role of support staff and managers, alongside frontline workers.

4. Give us hope of equality: Publish a timetable by this September to deliver fully on Fair Work in Social Care by 2025.

Launching the campaign, CCPS’s Chief Executive Rachel Cackett said:

“We may not always ‘see’ it, but social care and support is a fundamental; it touches all of us at points through our lives. But it mostly happens behind closed doors and is often obscured behind the big headlines about the crisis in the NHS.

“Social care needs to be championed in public for its crucial role in supporting people to realise their right to independence, their connections with the people and places that matter to them, their wellbeing, and their ability to participate in work, school and community.

“The Scottish Government needs to start talking about why social care matters – not just to keep the NHS on its feet, but to keep people on theirs. And it needs to articulate a plan for how it will invest in, and finally deliver, Fair Work.”

“This campaign is a first step on that journey and we hope everyone who cares about Fair Work will give it their support.”

Through the campaign CCPS’s members and wider civic society will alert the Scottish Government to why delivering on Fair Work is fundamental for the future of Scotland’s social care workforce.

Over the next three months, in the run-up to the Programme for Government and spending review, CCPS will be sharing voices, views and calls to action through the campaign.

Find out more about the campaign and take part.