We have all witnessed or better still participated in the clap for carers initiative which has grown out of the current crisis. I am sure that the carers themselves are lifted by our support. However what they really need is practical help, something that the government has been slow in coming up with.
Britain’s carers have been getting a raw deal for decades, they have very poor working conditions and the system they work in is broken. When I was a regular visitor to a care home five years ago staff shortages were a daily feature and shortages of basic equipment a fact of life. Despite that the workers did their best with a smile on their faces treating the residents with kindness. When someone passed away they were visibly upset. These ladies were simply amazing and I regularly told them so.
Now Coronavirus has struck the acute inadequacies of the care system have been cruelly exposed. In this situation residents will be needing more attention from an already overstretched workforce, shortages of equipment will be putting lives at risk and the sheer scale of deaths must have an impact on the mental wellbeing of staff.
This Conservative government appears to have no answer to this situation and should be slammed for its failure to address the issues that have been raised in public debate throughout their time in office. All carers whether they be family, home or residential have been getting a raw deal for years.
The same also goes for the elderly and vulnerable people they look after. So when this is all over we need a national campaign to address this. That means a living wage for all of those employed in care, a decent level of carers allowance for family carers, national standards established for training, breaks, time off, staffing levels and a charter of rights. Personally I believe that these reforms can only come by bringing social care under the NHS as a public service.
Most important of all I don’t want to see our carers forgotten once the current crisis is over. So by all means clap for carers but in the future join me in a campaign to improve things on a permanent basis.
* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats