Darren Stapelberg and Sally Warren express social care concerns

Published by Richard Yarrick-Holmes on October 1st 2020, 11:11am

With the social care sector preparing itself for a very difficult winter, leading social care experts Darren Stapelberg, managing director of Grosvenor Health and Social Care, and Sally Warren, policy director at the King’s Fund, have expressed concern.

For Mr Stapelberg (pictured), the March-May period this year left him in awe of all the people who work in the sector. Speaking at the time, he said ‘the hard work, effort and dedication you all show to your care profession has never never been more evident than it is today.’ 

In a video that has been viewed over two thousand times, he went on to say ‘and yes, I meant it when I said “care profession”’ before giving an impassioned call for a greater level of recognition for the social care sector. For Mr Stapelberg, and many others, 2020 has shown how much British people value the NHS but it has also demonstrated that the care sector does not receive nearly as much attention or support.

‘We are thankful and so privileged to have the NHS. The doctors, midwives, nurses, NHCAs,’ he clarified, ‘But I’m sure they would be the first to stand up and say that they wouldn’t be able to do much of their job without the valuable support of social care.’

For Sally Warren, this disparity in recognition and appreciation is prevalent within the government, with the government’s Covid-19 winter plan falling short of what is required. 

Speaking to the Guardian, Ms Warren warned that social care faces ‘a really hard six months on the back of a first really hard six months. 

‘Added to that we have staff, working in a lot of different settings, who are already exhausted and quite traumatised because they have had to deal with a lot of grief. Many of their clients have passed away and that’s not something they can just take in their stride. What we are coming into is another peak, another kind of marathon if you like, and they have barely recovered from the last marathon they’ve been running. So I do think it’s potentially a real combined storm that could hit this winter.

‘Covid has somewhat brutally exposed the fragilities of the sector, and those fragilities are because of a decade or more of funding squeezes – but also because of being ignored from a reform point of view.’

According to Ms Warren, the under-appreciation of the social care sector to which Mr Stapelberg alludes, has caused a lack of focus from ministers.

‘The reform issue is fundamentally a political and ministerial issue. If you think about the amount of policy analysis done over the past 20 years, there is barely any aspect of the debate on which there have not been multiple detailed submissions to ministers. They are the ones who need to grapple with the difficult decisions that need to be taken, and that requires some political bandwith, which understandably recently has been missing.

‘It’s hard to know without being in the room with ministers or inside their heads,” Warren says, “but they are relatively comfortable with NHS command-and-control mode. In a crisis the NHS definitely does that hierarchy thing – and does it very well – for good reason. That could be why they set out in the way they did and it hasn’t always been suitable, to put it politely.’

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Richard Yarrick-Holmes
Associate Editor
October 1st 2020, 11:11am

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