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Labelling social care workers as unskilled isn’t just wrong – it’s insulting

Posted by cornwallcare on February 27, 2020

Blog written by Anne Thomas, CEO of Cornwall Care

Let me ask you a question. What do you do when a loved one stops eating or drinking? Perhaps because they have forgotten how to chew or swallow?

People with dementia often lose the ability to feed themselves but, like everyone else, they desperately need nourishment. Would you describe a carer who patiently sits beside them for as long as it takes as unskilled? As someone who, by definition, is somehow less worthy of respect than an academic or an engineer? What does that say about our society? ‘We’re all equal, but some are more equal than others’?

I confess to being apoplectic about the Government’s recent edict that consigns many thousands of social care workers to the derisive ‘unskilled’ or ‘lower skilled’ category. In my opinion, it is beyond offensive.

Walk into one of our care homes and you will be amazed at the high standard of expertise required of every member of staff – from the nurse who manages complex health conditions to the carer who has an important part to play in helping make the end of someone’s life as comfortable, safe and happy as it possibly can be.

Training is key and the dedication and commitment shown by everyone in the Cornwall Care team is outstanding. They are multi-skilled, not low or unskilled, and to suggest otherwise is patronising and ignorant in the extreme.

Isn’t it time we dignified those who choose to work in our social care industry with adjectives that more accurately reflect their worth? Professional. Accomplished. Knowledgeable. Compassionate.

We are all likely to need their services one day – even those serving in government. The latter might consider the machinations of politics to be of far greater value than looking after vulnerable, elderly human beings who don’t know how to use a fork or get dressed but I suspect a time will come when their perspective changes. Yes, our country needs scientists, techno wizards and entrepreneurs but it also needs people willing, able and qualified to take care of others less able to take care of themselves.

My staff aren’t mere statistics who can be bracketed and discounted. They’re wonderful individuals who do sometimes difficult, but absolutely essential jobs. I’m personally very proud of all they achieve and would love to show anyone associated with the government’s decision to label social care workers as ‘unskilled’ exactly why they are so wrong. Indeed, not just wrong, insulting.