While the Covid-19 pandemic has placed enormous strain upon the health and social care sectors, recognition of the industry’s efforts has been apparent across the UK, with the weekly clap for carers, nurses, doctors and key workers one such gesture of appreciation. However, for one industry chief, Pericles co-founder Paulamaria Blaxland-de Lange, recognition of the sector’s struggles must now translate to tangible action in the shape of additional funding.
Based in West Sussex, Pericles’ speciality lies in providing supported housing, work adult education and therapy for adults with complex needs.
Speaking to the Leaders Council to offer her perspective, Blaxland-de Lange spoke of a lack of funding for local authorities which she feels cannot be allowed to continue.
She said: “Here in West Sussex, the councils are strapped for cash. Day services for adults with complex needs have been forcibly cut to below viability, despite contractual agreements. This is short termism as the resulting costs will be greater than the savings made.
“It was wonderful to have people nationwide applauding and making music for carers, nurses and doctors, but it has not made any difference in the government's response: to follow it up with an increase of funding for the most vulnerable members of our society.
“Social Services departments can no longer ask about the needs of the individual; they are having to spend their time on financial management. Funding is kept within central government and possibly not always spent in the most constructive manner.”
Blaxland-de Lange added that the cuts to services for adults with complex needs in recent years has resulted in many vulnerable people being left without vital services.
“Since the continuous cuts in services for adults with learning difficulties and complex needs over the last decades, people have increasingly been left without services, resulting in many of them being out on the streets, vulnerable to influences from criminal elements, leading to huge increases of adults with special needs suffering deprivation, neglect and being either abused or in prisons, or both.”
In Blaxland-de Lange’s view, the privatisation of some medicine, social care and health services has hampered the quality of care and seen funds that could be put toward improving care standards instead going directly to stakeholders.
She explained: “Seen in a wider context the fact that medicine, social care and services are now seen and behave like big business, with prisons and hospitals and care homes privately owned, this has led to any profits going to shareholders rather than to an increase of quality of care; these are societal issues that the present situation is outlining in its most stark outlines.
“However it came to be that services, education, illness, death, and social needs came to be important plus points for GDP will surely go down into the annals of global history as an almost fairy-tale-like witches brew in the story of our times.
“I don't think there is anything wrong with businesses and good business practice, nor with the fact that profits are welcome and necessary, but I do see a problem for these profits to go into shareholders' pockets, who do nothing towards the increase in quality of the business itself.”
Summarising her views on the state of services and industry, Blaxland-de Lange said: “There seems to me to be a huge difference between services and industry. The only thing they have in common is that they should be needs-based, be run well and honestly and responsible for their environments.
“If I have more money that I need, besides a healthy saving for more difficult times, these funds could surely be used where they are needed without creating yet more money that I do not need.”