Devon’s care workers need to be recognised now for their vital contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic by being better valued and rewarded, according to Devon County Council’s (DCC) Cabinet Member for Adult Health and Social Care, Councillor Andrew Leadbetter.
More care workers are needed to provide care to older people and those with disabilities or mental health needs.
There are currently approximately 1,500 permanent care vacancies in Devon, and many other additional temporary vacancies due to COVID-19.
And Cllr Leadbetter says that unless the government pledges more money to increase wages and improve opportunities for training and development, they will continue to be under-valued and Devon’s capacity to sustain vital care services will be put at risk.
Now Cllr Leadbetter is tasking the council to help build a case, working with providers and other partners, to put to central government for more resources to better reward social care workers
He said: “I believe care workers deserve better pay and conditions. COVID-19 has laid bare, for all to see, the vital role care workers play in safeguarding vulnerable people. It’s opened the public’s eyes, and we all owe them a huge debt.
“Social care work should be regarded as being on a par with the NHS, but it’s not. And like our NHS colleagues, care workers have never been under so much pressure. They are doing more than ever before and until they are paid more and further investment in training and development is committed, care work will always be considered the poor relation. And to me, this is unacceptable.”
His comments follow a call from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) last week for the government to invest more in social care.
They have also proposed a national minimum care wage and asked for an additional £480m in England in the short-term.
Cllr Leadbetter said this money is vital if, as expected, the social care sector is asked to work even harder to ease the strain on hospital beds by supporting those discharged from hospital.
“We need funding now to enable care providers to recruit ‘extra skilled care workers during the pandemic,” he said.
“In the long term addressing social care funding is key to our recovery from COVID. Without sufficient, high quality social care, we will not only fail those in need but fail a generation of families who will not be able to maintain their working lives. And that will affect us all economically.”