Over the next few weeks if you don’t like politics or like Brenda from Bristol you are fatigued by the constancy of being offered to vote in elections and referenda, it might be best if you leave the country for two months.
Within hours of the General Election being announced the political rhetoric was being refined, the battle buses were being serviced and the party spin was being texted to aspirant and existing politicians. Before even 24 hours had passed the print and visual media had polished up their appearance, the studio couches had been vacuumed and the logos and backdrops had been re-designed.
There is on one level something theatrical about the ‘event’ which is an election, whether at local or national level. The machine whether smooth or juddery, new or old, usually follows predictable tramlines. We’ve already had a dose of mud-slinging mixed with accusations of betrayal and personal condemnation. Increasingly you either love it or loathe it.
What is inescapable, is that all too often the critical issues get brushed aside by a wave of reportage which focuses on personality and a popularity contest. What is regrettably all too common is that debate and rhetoric are reduced to sound-bites rather than an articulation of complexity and a search for shared solutions. What is almost inevitable is that an election diminishes consensus and consolidates polarity.
The role of an organisation like Scottish Care is always a challenging one during an election. We walk a tightrope seeking to avoid being party political whilst at the same time wanting to articulate the issues that matter to our members, to workers and the people being supported and cared for.
Social care has rarely been at the critical juncture it finds itself at the current time. We are a sector no longer on the edge of crisis but daily battling for survival. That may sound melodramatic but it is the acute reality for all too many.
So, we aren’t going to tell you who to vote for but over the next eight weeks through the Scottish Local Elections and up to the General Election what we invite you to do is to #VoteforCare. We will release weekly statements on what a Vote for Care might mean.
We invite you to ask your candidates and parties what are they planning to do for social care in Scotland?
What will they do to address the fact that:
- We have a 28% vacancy level for nurses in care homes in Scotland
- We have 9 out of 10 home care companies struggling to recruit staff
- We pay as a society only £3.97 per hour to support an older person in a care home with 24/7 intensive nursing care
- We pay our frontline care workers on average a £1 less than they can get for stacking shelves in the local supermarket
- We have workers forced to get someone out of bed, washed and fed in less than 20 minutes
- We have people being cared for in their last few days by staff who are stressed and burnt out because of overwork
- We have family carers at breaking point because more and more is expected of them
- We risk losing 1 in 12 carers who work in Scotland but come from Europe
- We daily hear from older Scots who feel they have been short-changed in the care the Government will pay for them
So whoever you are, someone who receives support at home or is cared for in a nursing home, a family member or a friend, a care worker or someone who simply wants the vulnerable to be supported with dignity, let us all make care matter in the midst of the political noise.
Let all of us ask candidates what they plan to do not just what they plan to say, and together let’s make sure we all #VoteforCare.