Thursday, 16 August 2012

You Do Not Get Excellence On The Cheap

At a recent press conference Lord Coe said, "You can never spend too much on elite sport. It will always be the greatest driver of sporting participation and we should be unashamed about that.” He went on to say “Of course, you have to have the right structures in place to deal with that demand. Be under no illusion, you do not get excellence on the cheap”

While we are still in the grip of celebrating sporting achievement those words of Lord Coe could resonate throughout any aspect of society not just sport and particularly in social care.

Excellence is always a driver for success, the concept of being a role model is hardly a new one and while the concept may have become something of cliché it remains a fact that we will always try to emulate our heroes or businesses will endeavour to emulate the success of rivals. Unfortunately, in social care, we do not see the success achieved in supporting people to live active and fruitful lives with the support of family or care workers, we do not outwardly demonstrate the excellence of so many care workers dedicated to enhancing the lives of those who can no longer fully participate in society on their own.

Obviously within the sector we do celebrate excellence, primarily through various awards schemes such as the Skills for Care Accolades, yet those celebrations do not extend outwards to the general population and the only view of social care that achieves mainstream coverage is when things go wrong such as the Winterbourne View case. Yet it is only through showing excellence on a wider scale that we can improve recruitment and retention in the sector and inspire people to work in social care.

The Daily Mirror has stated they have found 61,309 jobs in social care (Care for a Change) and, in the current economic climate it seems incredible that so many jobs are available and, let’s be honest, if that many vacancies exist there are some companies struggling to provide a full level of care and support.

To provide the best possible care services we need the best possible care workers and entice the best we need to demonstrate to the wider public the excellence that already exists to inspire people to see social care as a vocation that is rewarding and intensely satisfying. To achieve that we need investment in the social care workforce, we need to move it from the perception of an underpaid, poorly regulated job to a career that promises recognition and gives a sense of pride in working in a sector that is recognised for its contribution to society and the lives of individuals.

The fragmented nature of social care means that the only way this can be achieved on a national level is by the Government coordinating efforts across all of the Local Authorities and the myriad of care providers. The Government needs to invest in social care to ensure a high level of excellence in care provision that will inspire the public and restore faith in the social care system.

Naturally not everything can always be perfect and rogue careers will always enter the system (not unlike drugs cheats who enter sport) but we need to ensure that excellence is highlighted above all else. To achieve this the Government needs to invest in social care – you do not get excellence on the cheap.