Continued Care shares the realities of social care on BBC News

 

Continued Care director Samantha Harrison was surprised to be contacted by someone from BBC News in late January.

They were preparing a report on the state of social care and its relation to hospital discharge, and would be filming in North Yorkshire at the end of the month. Would they be able to come to Continued Care and find out about our experiences? Not used to be in the spotlight, Samantha took her time to consider the idea before responding.

"It's not something that comes up very often and it doesn't feel very natural to me," she said. "But I really wanted to show the reality of social care – the challenges we face, and the way our brilliant carers keep smiling despite the pressures of the system that we're all constantly working with."

Two sides to the story

The team of three arrived from the BBC arrived with us in Harrogate on a Wednesday afternoon, having just spent the morning filming at Harrogate District Hospital. Their aim was to show the two sides of the situation: a patient who needed to be discharged from hospital into social care, and how social care organisations like Continued Care are adapting to the changing demands of the system.

A patients viewpoint

One of our long-standing clients, Jenny, had offered to take part in the filming and give her views. Jenny has four visits from our carers every day and has had spells in hospital and in a care home in the past. She's an incredible advocate for home care, having experienced the difference it makes to her life.

She told the BBC team that being at home enables her to retain a sense of control over her life. She is in her own surroundings and can have her own possessions around her. She has a regular schedule of care and can invite friends to visit in between times, as well as spending time with her family, including two lovely grandchildren.

A care system under pressure

Jenny also spoke powerfully about the pressures on the care system. She sees her carers every day and, although they are always upbeat and wear a smile, she knows the demands we are facing to do more work in less time.

The BBC team also spoke to Sue McGowan, one of our experienced carers, who reflected on the way the role has changed in her ten years with us.

Finally, we came to the Continued Care office, where they filmed our team looking at new cases arriving with us from North Yorkshire County Council, and interviewed Samantha about her experiences.

"I wanted to get across the fact that we have to value social care, and treat it with as much respect as medical care, if we are going to solve the problems facing the industry," said Samantha.

The realities of working as a carer

"It's not just about the money – people who are motivated purely by money aren't always the ones who are best suited to working in care. Instead, it's about the respect we give to care as a career.

"In Harrogate, we have a particular problem with jobs. We find ourselves competing with supermarkets and with the growing number of restaurants and hotels here. Why would someone choose to work in care when they can earn a similar amount in one of those industries, and it seems to be much more respected by society and in the media?

"At Continued Care, we offer our carers opportunities to gain qualifications, to achieve things they may not have thought possible, and to progress into areas that might not have been available to them in the past. If someone tells us they want to move into care coordination, administration or business management, we do all we can to enable them to achieve that."

A change in perception is needed

"Caring for other people is one of the most rewarding and valuable things you can do with your life. I'm absolutely determined that the public perception of care work should change and we should value it in the same way we do nursing or medical care.

"Only when we view social care in the same way we view health care, and fund it in the same way we fund the NHS, will we start to see the system working as well as it should."

The story about social care in North Yorkshire, featuring Jenny, Sue and Samantha, is due to be broadcast on Wednesday 8th February on BBC News at 6pm and 10pm.


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