Bureaucracy, Battles and Budgets: Learning from the “Our World Reimagined – Social Care” Series

As GCVS launches a report outlining learning from the ‘Our World Reimagined – Social Care’ series, our Health and Social Care Coordinator talks about the challenge of ‘recovering equally’ from the COVID-19 pandemic and how this starts for social care in Scotland.

As we enter the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, there is much talk of moving on and learning to live with COVID. Yet, the reality of life for the voluntary sector and for the families and communities we stand beside contradicts the notion that we are in a pandemic ‘end game’.

Our World Reimagined – Social Care Series Learning and Reflections

What does the report highlight?

We may be exiting (slowly) from yet another wave, yet the pressure on our health and care services in Glasgow and across Scotland remains significant.  That has consequences for so many, on a number of levels:

The voluntary sector – at the vanguard of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic – is itself exhausted, and is still being called upon to respond to people in real need.

All of these issues were themes which emerged repeatedly during our recent ‘Our World Reimagined – Social Care event series’.

Across 2021, sessions explored the National Care service proposals, trauma and the pandemic, the issues linked to gender, care and unpaid care; self-directed support, and the broader impacts of lockdown and COVID on an already fragmented social care system.

Participants made clear that the challenges at the heart of social care, which were magnified by the pandemic, must be addressed to ensure that reform grounded in the findings of the Feeley Review is successful. Families and individuals who need and use social care talked about the current power imbalance which exists when they engage with local social work services; bureaucracy, battles and budgets are barriers to people with disabilities and carers having any real quality of life. Some of the examples we’ve heard have been truly heartbreaking.

The work of Glasgow Disability Alliance, carer organisations, PAMIS and others hasLady stands facing a body of water with back to camera been instrumental in shining a light on the current care crisis. The specific challenges facing people with life limiting or terminal illnesses, the lack of co-production in shaping COVID responses and the ‘abandonment’ felt by unpaid carers were raised in a number of different sessions.

Add to all of this the spiraling cost of living crisis and we have a recipe which could further bake in health, social and economic inequalities for years to come.

Yet, in all of the sadness in this series, there always remained a grain of hope. The voluntary sector, families and communities who need health and care talked clearly about what needs to change and about why investing in and reforming social care is now critical.

Allowing families to spend self-directed support budgets as they see fit; removal of care charging and easier access to aids and equipment should not be difficult to do. Families have solutions and are desperate to work with public bodies to create a social care system Scotland can be proud of.

Pennie Taylor who hosted many of our sessions across 2021 recently reflected on what she had learned from “Our World Reimagined”:

“There are ways we can make things better – policy makers just have to listen.”

In this difficult world we all inhabit, it’s hard to find hope or to see how we can all recover equally from the trauma of this last period.  But recover we must. “Relentless involvement” of those hardest hit over the last two years is the first step in that journey.

Lynn Williams, Health and Social Care Coordinator

READ – Our World Reimagined – Social Care Series Learning and Reflections

WATCH – ‘Our World Reimagined – Social Care’ series

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