Recovering Health and Care Services

Recovering Health and Care Services

recover of care services

Recovering Health and Care Services

Pennie Taylor, 8 March 2022

It is breath-taking to look back over the past couple of years and reflect on the learning curve. For me, the biggest revelations have involved the impact of the pandemic on social care – COVID starkly spotlighting both the critical importance of the sector and the extreme fragility of services that so many people depend on and deliver.

Disabled people took the greatest hit, losing the support so many rely on and becoming ill and dying in greater numbers. Human rights were compromised as life-and-death decisions were being made, and unpaid carers had no choice but to shoulder the load alone.

These issues, and more, were the focus of the GCVS Our World Reimagined discussions that took place throughout the different pandemic peaks,  and they opened my eyes to harsh reality.  As well as exploring the challenges, a range of contributors set out solutions. Collectively, they informed my thinking about what pandemic ‘recovery’ could look like and gave me hope for a better future.

Social care was broken before COVID.  Indeed, as the pandemic was emerging, so was Derek Feeley’s Independent Review of Adult Social Care, which made recommendations for radical change.  Arguments still rage about the role of Local Authorities, restructured Integrated Joint Boards and other bureaucratic issues, and it is clear that reform will take years to unroll.  But in the meantime there is much that can be done – so long as people are heard.

One of the refreshing aspects of COVID for me was the participation of people directly affected by social care failures in the public debate. Social media became the forum for sharing experience and perspectives on the unfolding crisis, much of which was picked up by the media and politicians; digital technologies such as Zoom allowed networks to flourish as never before, bringing real connection to people with shared interests from their homes across Scotland and the world. Ultimately, a movement emerged – a coalition of people who receive care, and their carers, all committed to getting involved in improvement.

No-one wants things to go back to the way they were, and it will take everyone’s efforts to get it right in future. For that to happen, the people in charge need to continue to listen to the voices of experience and, importantly, to act on what they hear. When the needs of people genuinely take priority over processes, and commissioners of care genuinely cede power over the purse strings, there will be sea-change.

Imagine if we could reframe the status of social care, boosting appreciation of its importance in parity with the NHS; if care workers were held in the esteem they deserve and paid enough to attract and retain them; if there was appropriate support for family carers?  Imagine if public sector procurement was focused on supporting local businesses, skills development and job creation when it bought products and services; if co-production was deeply embedded across public agencies, which worked together to resolve people’s problems; if wellbeing were the measurement of success?

The pandemic has taught us that without a functioning social care system, Scotland’s health service cannot hope to meet its unprecedented challenges. Now is the time for all to come together to put it right.


Pennie Taylor

Thank you to Pennie for her blog and insight on this topic.

To follow more news and events from our Health and Social Care team, please follow us @GCVSHealthCare on Twitter

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