Insights

Chris Rose: 4.5 minute read

Will Brexit result in a staffing crisis for care organisations?

Social care is a frontline service, every bit as important as the NHS. They are two pillars of the same house that care for millions every year. They are services that will affect us all at some point in our lives and so we should have respect for both, and see them as equals. One is not greater than the other and you could even argue that they cannot survive without each other.

Big challenges are on the horizon, with Brexit looming like the Grim Reaper, waiting for the final decision to be made; ready to remove unnecessary expenditure in order to balance the books. It’s an unpleasant situation that has led to much uncertainty and why the Green Paper has been continually delayed.

The focus of the Government is to deliver the best Brexit possible and therefore, social care has fallen by the wayside.

“The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.”

This quote from Mahatma Gandhi is one of our favourites. For us it is the antithesis of the current situation here in the England. Three weeks ago we pointed to the fact that due to continued government austerity more than 120,000 extra deaths have been recorded within care. The deaths according to the British Medical Journal are attributable to the over 60s and care home residents, who have borne the brunt of the cuts.

Reduction in the number of staff members

The funding cuts have led to reductions in the number of medical professionals being available in their respective setting. Whether that is on the ward or in the home, the staff members available have less time for those they care for. This is a failure of the most personal nature, with our loved ones being greatly affected and in some cases dying earlier than they should have.

Struggling to recruit staff members in the care industry is nothing new. For years homes have struggled to maintain reputation and their CQC rating as resources are at an absolute minimum. Profit margins for the smallest care homes regularly lead to them closing their doors permanently, leaving the most vulnerable out in the cold.

All but the most unscrupulous owners want to do more to provide the best quality of care to their residents. They cannot do so as trips out cost money and need staff members available to care for residents. In addition to this you need to consider the administration of each resident, with medicines needed each day, alongside care notes that need to be updated.

With all this in mind you can see how homes remain understaffed. They are not able to recruit the numbers they need with the funds they have. By this token, going above and beyond becomes a dream and all but the bare minimum of care is provided.

Immigration helps to prop up a large quantity of the care industry and with Brexit looming there is worry of an increased shortfall, which could remove the bare minimum of care from the equation. This is a scenario that nobody wants to see made flesh.

Assess and address campaign

The Brexit crisis will lead to additional gaps appearing in the sector, in regards to the provision of care. This will be true for not only England but the UK as a whole. A national campaign, Assess and Address has seen this and been backed by more than 100 organisations across the UK, being debated in Parliament earlier this month.

Emerging from concerns in the third sector, the campaign is focused on implications Brexit will have in terms of recruitment within health and social care. Championed by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland (the ALLIANCE) and Camphill Scotland, the campaign has major backing. The debate was led by Brendan O’Hara MP, SNP member for Argyll and Bute.

During the course of the session, the debate heard that not a single one of the organisations who have backed the campaign feel that Brexit will benefit the health of those living in Britain. It is in stark contrast to what is needed to ensure that as a nation, our promise of person-centred care is kept.

Mr. O’Hara said: “Without exception, every one of the 102 organisations that support the campaign have highlighted the enormous damage that Brexit, particularly the end of freedom of movement would do to their ability to deliver in the health and social care sector.

What can be done?

Deliver a Brexit deal that will not end freedom of movement. Acknowledge the vital role that immigration plays in keeping essential care services running and not leave them to breaking point. This is easier said than done and we are not politicians in the heart of the debate with the eyes of a nation watching. We are a technology company dedicated to improving the lives of everyone involved in health and social care.

We care about the industry and since the advent of the internet have focused on creating technological solutions that increase efficiencies and give time back to practitioners. This will be become increasingly important as the clock ticks down to Brexit. With less staff available, organisations will need to utilise technology to create efficiencies. This will aid in the battle for maintaining standards and not letting the most vulnerable members of society down.

As resources begin to dry up, technology will increase in need but in the long run the perception of social care needs to be changed. Too many see it as a short term role that is full of undesirable life tasks and low monetary returns. This is one of the main reasons that immigration is essential for social care. When those in England turn away from the profession, gaps appear and these need to be filled, and they have been for years. With this set to change once Brexit commences the balance will need to be re-addressed.

Government campaign

Every day is different’ is the title of the recent government campaign that has been released to the public to help with recruitment rates. The campaign focuses on the varied natures of roles in care, with no two days being the same and providing the opportunity to build your skillset. It is a campaign that we congratulate the government for but wonder why it was not at the top of their agenda before this year. You could even go on to make the argument that the campaign has emerged from Brexit and is in response to a potential no deal scenario.

The campaign has also been criticised for hiding the true nature of working in care, missing the changes, medication and challenging behaviour. We truly agree that it is a rewarding career and one in which you can make a real difference but it does have its challenges. People are aware of this and with uncertainty over the funding of social care, through a lack of a Green Paper, will continue to see it as low paid work with high stress factors.

Conclusion

Uncertainty over Brexit will no doubt continue to delay the Green Paper, which will lead to the funding of social care becoming murkier by the day. Without a long term plan and dedicated cash injection, social care will continue to be the unloved sibling that lacks the reserves to fund the workforce required to enable true person-centred care across the board.

Social care is every bit as important as health. It’s time that we saw them as two sides of the same coin that will both be affected by Brexit in terms of workforce reductions. We need to ensure as much as possible that this does not happen, lest the most vulnerable members of society will suffer. How we treat them will be a major factor in how the world remembers the UK and Brexit. Will we band together and work for the greater good to ensure that the most vulnerable are protected, or leave them out in the cold?