Why are social care resources so stretched?
Social care is talked about a lot at present due to the well-recognised lack of funding and resources that this area of society so desperately needs. In fact, it is often said that the quality of society can be judged by how well it takes care of the elderly population. Sadly, we know many elderly people are still being failed.
A booming sector
Ironically the social care sector IS booming due to supply and demand. The increase in an elderly population who are living longer than any generation naturally means a growing need for care services. The rest of the recessionary economy would no doubt love to share in this exponential growth so why is it that resources are so stretched?
Firstly, there has been well publicised mismanagement of care homes and a severe shortage of care staff – indeed; it is estimated that over 3 million workers will need to be employed by the care sector by 2025 in order to avert the continuing crisis. However, current recruitment practices and lack of funding make this seemingly impossible number. The job image itself deters younger/male applicants and yet many would excel in a caring role. The average care worker is female and mid-forties with many stretched from caring for their own elderly parents and children and so much could be done to widen the employment profile.
It is no surprise that funding continues to be a huge issue despite government promises to overhaul the care sector. Care costs continue to rise putting immense pressure on families and the elderly who are in need of these essential services. It is not unusual to be charged £2000 per bed per week in Southern England and approximately 50% of care home residents are responsible for their own fees with the rest part-funded as the State’s responsibility ever diminishes.
A third challenge is the issue of regulation. Families need to be able to trust that their relatives are being properly taken care of but stories of abuse are commonplace and it is time tougher measures were put in place to hold owners and senior staff members accountable for such failings.
What options are there?
There is no doubt that state-provided care can feel like a minefield but there are other options. At the end of the day (or night) it’s the quality of care that counts and this is why many families consider live-in care or domiciliary care for peace of mind instead. Care services in your own home means care charges get quality “one on one” support from carefully vetted staff plus the independence of staying in their own home.
The continuing care crisis is one of the most daunting challenges our country and the rest of the world is facing. Of utmost personal importance however (and something you can address right now) is how to tell if your loved ones’ care needs are being met. If they’re not, you need to look at their rights and options to get something that works best for them.