Helen Hayes has called for widespread reform to the social care sector, saying government claims that the industry was supported during the crisis ‘bore no relationship’ to the experiences shared with her by staff.
As co-chair of the all party parliamentary group on adult social care Hayes has been a tireless advocate for reform including, as we reported last month, increased pay in the sector which she says is beset by ‘poverty wages’.
In the House of Commons debate held on March 18, the Dulwich and West Norwood MP said: “I have to say that, very often, the first-hand experiences reported to me bore no relationship to the government’s statements on social care.
“There was no protective ring around care homes; residents and staff contracted coronavirus and died, because they could not access personal protective equipment or testing.
“Domiciliary care was completely neglected. There were no protocols on managing infection risk for staff who provide care to multiple people in their own homes.
“People who manage their own care at home could not get access to advice or PPE.
“There was not the financial support to enable care workers to self-isolate when necessary, without their having to worry about how they would put food on the table.
“Throughout the pandemic, the social care workforce carried on looking after our most frail and vulnerable loved ones, consoling people who did not understand why family members were unable to visit, holding hands, and comforting people as they passed away.
“In responding to my written parliamentary question on whether the government would recognise the contribution of the social care workforce during the pandemic with a payment, as the Welsh Labour Government have done, the minister said that the Government had issued the care badge.
“A badge does not put food on the table, help to pay the rent, compensate for lost income due to illness or self-isolation, or help with the stress and trauma that many care workers have endured.
“The pressures on the social care sector were well documented before the COVID-19 pandemic, and the pandemic has only made them worse.”