The crisis in adult social care is deepening. A recent report found that 338,520 care workers left their jobs in the industry last year – an average of over 900 a day. As a result of austerity and privatisation, the social care system is on the verge of collapse. A socialist programme of public ownership and control is needed to save this vital service.
The crisis in adult social care rolls on. A recent report by the charity Skills for Care shows that, in 2015-2016, 338,520 workers left their jobs in the care sector – an average of over 900 a day. 60% of these workers left social care entirely.
This high turnover, more than double the national average, can be attributed to two factors: the low pay many in the care system face; and the aggressive privatisation of the sector. The chair of the UK Home Care Association warned that “the system has already begun to collapse”, just days before Philip Hammond announced in his Spring Budget that £2bn will be spent over the next three years to “ensure that elderly people are receiving the care they need.”
As we have reported previously, this does little to alleviate the crisis and fails to even address the short-term funding gap. When this sector struggles, it hits both workers and those needing care hard.
“It’s a work that requires a high level of human empathy and that’s something that my employer exploited”, a 19-year-old former home-care worker (who wished to remain anonymous) told Socialist Appeal. “I experienced occasions where due to the time constraints, a client would be left unfed, uncomfortable or even in partially soiled clothing. My solution ended up being to lie about my visit lengths so I could spend the right amount of time to ensure that someone is left comfortable. Within my employment there were penalties for running over time.”
This account depicts a service motivated by profit, not by care. As more of this work is passed out to the private sector, the pursuit of profit will put more stress on workers and those in need, deepening the crisis.
It is possible to operate a care service built on compassion – but it must be driven by need, not profit. The solution is to return social care to public control, as part of a democratically and publically-owned planned economy. Nationalisation of the key levers of the economy would end the crisis of funding for public services and ensure that more carers could be employed on a proper living wage, alleviating the pressure that has forced so many out of this vital sector.