The pandemic has shown, if any further evidence was needed, how crucial the social care and childcare workforces are to the well-being of people of all ages in communities across Wales.
Even in ‘normal’ times, social care workers play a vital role in caring for adults, children, their families, and carers, while childcare workers help give our children a great start in life and provide valuable support for parents.
However, the past year and a half has been anything but ‘normal’. And, for social care and childcare, it has been the most challenging period in living memory. But the response from our workforce and their managers and leaders has been nothing short of astonishing. Their absolute focus on supporting citizens who rely on good quality care and support has been admirable.
Time and again, they have risen to meet the enormous challenges of Covid, showing their commitment and professionalism. So now is the time for us to look at how we can improve support to those working in care roles. This is essential if the care sector, as individuals and collectively, is to recover and remain sustainable.
The Covid pandemic has also highlighted the inequalities in our society. However, this gives us an unparalleled opportunity to take action to make sure children and adults can live their lives free from discrimination.
For June, we have changed our logo in support of Pride Month, and to demonstrate our commitment to do all we can to promote equality, diversity and inclusivity.
It is also important, while memories of the worst of the pandemic are fresh in our minds, to recognise what a positive difference care workers have made to people’s lives in the most difficult of circumstances.
That is why we are currently running an initiative called Care Stars, which invites anyone to nominate a care worker they feel deserves special recognition for their efforts over the past 15 months or so. Closing date for nominations is 23 June and you can find all the details on our website.
We hope the vaccination roll-out continues to ease the public health emergency, but we recognise that for social care and childcare practitioners, many challenges have only just begun. That is why our plans this year give priority to helping the social care and childcare workforces recover from the impact of the pandemic on their personal and professional lives.
In practice, this will mean continuing to provide the workforce with tools to help maintain their health and well-being, investing in workforce development, attracting more people to work in care roles, creating more opportunities for digital learning, and using research and evidence to find out what else is needed to support the sector in the best way.
It is also important that care workers’ skill and dedication, during a crisis or any other time, is given fair reward that reflects the crucial part they play in the well-being of people and our communities. This is something recognised by the Welsh Government, which has signed up to the recommendations of the Fair Work Commission. We support the government in this ambition.
At Social Care Wales, we will continue to listen to the workforce, employers, and leaders to recognise challenges and opportunities and do what we can to support them to recover, stabilise and continuously improve in the short, medium and longer term.