Throughout the pandemic care workers continued to provide care and support to our most vulnerable loved ones, even as the virus brought devastation to care homes. Despite the words of Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock, there was no ‘protective ring’ around care homes. Staff struggled for months to access PPE and Covid testing, and a shortage of tests meant that hospitals continued to discharge Covid-positive patients into care homes where they spread infection. I have heard harrowing accounts from care workers of their grief and fear as they saw colleagues and residents contracting the virus. Yet so many went above and beyond the call of duty, leaving their families to move into care homes, to avoid the risk of bringing the infection in from outside, comforting residents who were unable to see family and friends, and going to great lengths to help residents to maintain contact through FaceTime or Zoom. No-one should be paid less than the living wage for this work which requires skill, commitment and compassion.
In 2019, Boris Johnson promised he had a comprehensive plans ready to go to reform the social care system. Almost two years later, and after more than a decade of detailed cross party work by select committees, all-party parliamentary groups, think tanks and others, there has been no progress at all. We hear today just the briefest mention of social care in the Queen’s Speech, when it should be centre-stage. This simply isn’t good enough, the Government must urgently work to build cross-party agreement on a plan for social care reform, a long term, sustainable funding settlement and a proper pay rise for social care workers. I recently led a debate in Parliament on social care. You can see my recent speech here>>