In my next few columns, I’m going to focus on what we’re looking to achieve through our newly-launched five-year plan for Social Care Wales. You can read the plan on our website.
The first topic I’m going to focus on is the well-being of those working in social care and early years and childcare.
So why is this the most important topic, from my perspective?
There is an increasing and compelling body of evidence linking the well-being, capability and motivation of the care workforce to better outcomes for the children, young people and adults they empower and support.
In the wake of the pandemic, the health and well-being of the care workforce has been brought into sharper focus. This is because many of those working in social care and early years and childcare are still feeling the effects of the immensely difficult experiences they have had since the start of the pandemic.
On top of this, we know there is still a serious shortage of people working in social care and early years and childcare, which puts even more pressure on those who are currently employed. For those interested in working in care, there is a fantastic range of roles available on our jobs portal on the wecare.wales website.
Although the workforce is our biggest and most precious asset in providing high quality care and support, feedback from workers suggests they do not always feel valued and supported. This also doesn’t help with maintaining their sense of well-being.
It would help if care workers heard more of the kind of comments made by former NHS surgeon turned coach and trainer, Dr Giles P Croft who has been helping us provide support for social care managers and social workers.
Dr Croft has directly addressed those he’s been supporting by saying: “Down to the very last one of you, you all fulfil such a crucial role, you are all working supremely hard under the most trying of conditions and I think you’re all doing a brilliant job. So thank you!
“There is no group of people, today, in the UK that I would rather support in this way. You deserve way more recognition than you receive, and if it’s any help, coming from someone who has been dropped into this world from outside, in order to help out, I want to share my heart-felt appreciation for everything you do.”
So, as the well-being of the care workforce is so important, what are we going to do over the next five years to help?
For the workforce, we will provide support, such as the courses Dr Croft has been running, to maintain and improve their well-being. Part of this package includes an assistance programme designed to provide all care workers with emotional support when they need it.
We are also planning to carry out research to understand more about the challenges workers face and how we can best support them.
With employers, we will provide evidence-based resources and support to help them improve workforce well-being.
For leaders of the care profession, we will provide leadership and co-ordination to help them work collaboratively with partners, to share good practice and prioritise initiatives that will improve workforce well-being.
Research and data will also be important so we can find out how best to inform national decisions and policies that have an impact on workforce well-being.
Such information will also be important in helping us know if our work is making a difference, so we can adapt our approach to ensure it remains relevant and has the impact we are looking for.