We’re extending our drive to improve access to care and support for vulnerable people.
We are reaching out through church and faith group networks to make more people aware of the acute challenges, particularly the shortage of care workers, now faced by Devon social care providers, and how communities can work together to support many thousands of people.
The approach via church and faith groups follows the death of an elderly Devon resident who died peacefully and quietly at home.
She had been receiving visits by care workers, but between those visits she saw very few other people, and latterly had felt isolated and alone.
Councillor James McInnes, Cabinet Member responsible for adult social care, said:
“Loneliness and feelings of isolation are common, especially by those who live alone.
“And with coronavirus, and through the successive lockdowns and general anxieties about the virus, sadly those feelings of loneliness have become more commonplace.
“But Devon is full of good, caring people. We’ve seen it during the pandemic. We’ve seen the goodwill that neighbours and friends show to each other as well as strangers in their communities. And we’ve seen the positive difference that a little kindness from one person can make to another person’s quality of life.
“Moments like this remind us to ask ourselves what we each can do for others less able or alone within our communities.”
Devon’s social care challenge is abundantly clear. A desperate shortage of care workers is leaving care providers simply unable to meet the care needs of more and more people.
There are around 2,000 vacancies for care workers in Devon today, that care providers are struggling to fill because too few people are coming forward.
Without them, care providers have little ability to do more.
Alongside them, Personal Assistants, often working for themselves, are visiting people at home to help with what needs doing – shopping, cleaning, cooking, some personal care – but there are too few of those as well.
Within the voluntary sector, local groups, which have pulled out all the stops, especially during the pandemic, to look out and provide practical support for people in their communities, are doing all they can.
And although we’re now emerging from the pandemic, local shops and businesses are still providing a friendly and personal service to those they know rely on them for basic supplies.
So lots of people are doing good things, and yet many are still alone.
“We are not going to change that overnight, but we all can do more, and many people want to do more,” said James McInnes.
“Devon needs people to come forward – not just to work as care workers or personal assistants delivering personal care and other support, but also as volunteers to be there for neighbours, friends and even strangers in their communities, offering friendship and company to those who need it most.
“Let’s not forget nor lose the spirit that we’ve seen through this pandemic. Let’s remember the value that small acts of kindness can have on other people’s lives. And let’s reflect on ourselves and ask how we can do more to look out for others who need our support.”
We’re organising a Zoom call for Devon’s churches and faith groups, on Monday 8 November. It’s being hosted by the Church of England, but it’s open to all faiths, and all are very welcome and invited to join.
The call will be an opportunity to hear more about how we can support people in the community despite the challenges facing the care sector in Devon right now. And an opportunity to discuss what more can be done in the drive to make sure everyone who needs support in Devon has access to it.
To request the Zoom invite to join the discussion, please email email@example.com.