C.Co’s Sanjeet Bains revisits the blog Its time to appreciate our carers in light of the current pandemic and changing perceptions of social care.


Back in the Autumn, C.Co’s Natalie Abraham wrote about how important it is to appreciate our carers. Not a day went by without headlines focusing on our broken care system. Whether it’s was the lack of funding, examples of neglect, or the costs which people will incur in later life, the dialogue always seemed to be tainted to the negative.

But over the past 6 weeks, I feel this has changed. For the first time in my career, I feel carers are (starting to) get the recognition they deserve. We’ve heard tales of home care workers going house to house, supporting the isolated and vulnerable with everything from getting essential supplies to personal care. In residential care homes where families have been banned from seeing their elderly relatives, we’ve seen care workers leave their own home, families, friends and move into residential settings to avoid spreading the virus and keep residents safe. And not forgetting those carers supporting children, young people and those with disabilities, cope, best they can through this pandemic. We’ve come out to clap for our carers, as well as the NHS heroes every Thursday.

Caring responsibilities also became reality to many more millions. Overnight, those who never considered themselves carers, had caring responsibilities thrusted upon them, whether that be looking after an elderly parent who is shielding or friends or family with health conditions that puts them at greater risk to the virus.

Back in the Autumn, Natalie asked readers to consider their views of the NHS and Social care – Take 10 people. Ask them to say the first word which comes into their head. Then say ‘NHS’. Next say ‘Social Care’. The former tended to elicit positive reactions, the latter negative. Is this still the case now?

I’m lucky to work with the people who use the care system, the people who commission it, and the people who provide it. A typical day involves designing a new service with commissioners and the people who use and deliver those services, working with commissioners through some of the issues they may be grappling with or working with providers calculating what represents a fair cost of care in their local area. Through these daily conversations, I speak to people who improve people’s lives every time they go to work; and they certainly do not do it for the money. I often think this gets lost in the national narrative on social care. I saw over my twitter feed last week, my clients, friends and colleagues in social care shout that they are “Proud to work in Social Care”, they should be and I’m proud of them.

In some ways, I hope the positive that comes out of this pandemic is that the perception of social care and care workers changes. That we value the impact our carers have on the daily lives of people and how, they go hand in hand with the amazing work of NHS colleagues in supporting a sustainable health and care system. But I believe perception, must be followed through with action, we hear of social care workers scrambling for PPE to support the most vulnerable, only last Friday were care workers including in “other key workers” to be offered COVID-19 Tests.

It’s time to turn the narrative around and we need to speak of the people who benefit from the care system and give those who run our care system the respect they deserve. Could this pandemic be an opportunity to reset the relationship between health and care, where we have the opportunity to see parity between health and care?