Has the perception of social care been manipulated by the media? Are modern Social Workers equipped to deal with the ever changing and increasingly severe demanding nature of the care sector?
There are two sides to the general image that is associated with Care Workers in the UK. Firstly, the dirty side that most documentarians with hidden cameras focus on, involving the systematic abuse of the elderly and disabled by trusted care home employees.
Subsequently, the carers are framed as violent and emotionless humans whom instil fear into the elderly and families who are ready to make pivotal decisions regarding plans to care for their loved ones.
This is clearly an issue that will keep on occurring within minimum-wage-paying, zero-hour contract care homes, but it’s a drop in the ocean in comparison to the selfless work that the majority of social care professionals achieve on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, very little attention is given to the flip-side, which is the reality that carers across the UK are having a monumental impact on the lives of people in crisis throughout our communities.
Care workers are here to guide vulnerable people out of dark and confusing situations and into the brightest version of their future. Be it in care homes, dealing with abused children, or guiding families through tough times, social care is an art that is losing its identity as an invaluable tool for communities across the UK.
Social Care is not a career that you accidentally fall into, it takes an unparalleled level of human understanding, resilience, empathy and a burning desire to make a positive impact. A lot of the Social Workers that we speak to at Seven Social Care are doing their job because someone helped them when they needed it most, or the opposite, they knew someone close to them that could have benefited from a helping hand. This level of commitment is rare in other professions and should be noticed, grown and preserved so it can be instilled in others.
The role of a Social Worker?
The description given in the Social work task force 2009 is:
“Social work helps adults and children to be safe so that they can cope and take control of their lives again. Social workers make life better for people in crisis who are struggling to cope, feel alone and cannot sort out their problems unaided”
The intricacy that comes with such a broad statement means that Social Workers are feeling overwhelmed within their roles. We speak to incredible Social Workers daily who tell us that the level of trauma that children and adults are dealing with in their everyday lives has increased, and the experience and training they have received does not equip them with the tools needed to administer the care they are so desperate to give.
There is minimal attention given to the value of social care work in the UK and the underlying need for investment. The introduction of “living wage” slightly alleviated the pressure, however, the lack of investment makes an already unstable market evermore fragile.
The fact that the care industry relies on local authorities and council tax means that the government fail to prioritise this vital area of our society. This signals an even further devaluation of our elderly population and undermines the work care workers do for the vulnerable and underprivileged.
So, how do things change?
Education is key and care professionals can train in various ways. Aspiring care workers now have easy access to learning the do’s and don’ts of care, behavioural psychology and up to date strategy regarding modern-day trauma and needs of the public. A vital component that desperately needs addressing is investment from the government so care homes and care workers can administer a level of care that is consistent despite ever-growing workloads.
Most importantly we need to see a change in the perception of Social Workers, ensuring their stories are told, their voices are heard and their work is championed as a vital resource that we all have access to.