Losing confidence? Social care shall rise.

This past week I had the pleasure of spending some time with social care colleagues from the rest of the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Five Nations Care Forum is now in its second decade and is an opportunity for the leaders of social care representatives’ bodies to come together twice a year to share insights, experiences, suggestions and support on issues of the day. There is so much that unites the countries regardless of diverse governmental, operational and regulatory systems.

One of the constant themes and words used during our exchanges this week was that of ‘confidence.’ There was a sense that one of the most significant risks to the delivery of social care support both in residential and nursing care homes, and in care at home and housing support was the lack of confidence which existed. There was a lack of confidence in the focus, resolve and ability of our political leadership to lead us out of many of the current challenges. There was a lack of confidence that the role, contribution, and professionalism of our social care support workforce was sufficiently valued and even understood. There was a lack of confidence felt by organisations unwilling to invest, plan and innovate for the future when so many things were uncertain and up in the air. We concluded our considerations by issuing a media statement arguing that now is the time to globally articulate a new vision, a fresh direction and a new passion for social care and that in the coming months we would seek to work to do so. http://www.fivenationscareforum.com/going-global/

Confidence is an interesting phenomenon, sometimes an elusive experience. As the Chambers dictionary states:

‘“etymologically, confidence comes from Latin, specifically the noun confīdentia from the verb confīdere “to confide.”… the verb fīdere means “to trust.” The related Latin noun fidēs “trust” is the ultimate source of the English word faith.”

Do we have trust and faith that the future of social care is one that we can consider to be safe and secure? Confidence needs the energy of faith to feed it and nurture hope into reality. For those who use social care supports, who work in the sectors, and who care for its priority and aims, there is no alternative but to continue to struggle to increase confidence and to raise our voices above the din of disinterested silence.

I ended my week with two critical meetings of providers of care home and homecare provision in Scotland. These are dark and challenging times and the lack of focus and urgency by so many with the ability to make decisions which can bring real change is frustrating and depressing. As key national discussions are ongoing, I cannot comment at this stage but anyone working in social care in Scotland knows that the next few days and weeks are critical to the survival of the sector and that we require political leadership to work in partnership to achieve positive outcomes for all.

But one thing I am convinced of is that regardless of short-term outcomes, there is a passion, a fire, a resolve in the belly of the body social care, to renew itself, to be heard, to advocate for those with no voice, to reform and reshape the way we care and support, to no longer be the pliant child who receives the scraps of attention and focus, but to shout aloud about the glorious, wonder which is a life transformed by the care and compassion which good social care delivers and promises.

In that I can find no better expression than in the glorious words of one of my all-time favourites Maya Angelou. She wrote this about her own sassy sexuality and self – but I can just as much see these words as speaking for social care today. We are not, we dare not lose confidence, social care support in Scotland shall rise.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.


Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.


Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.


Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?


Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.


You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.


Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?


Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise” from And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems.  Copyright © 1978 by Maya Angelou.  Used by permission of Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Source: The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou (1994)

Still I Rise by Maya Angelou | Poetry Foundation

Donald Macaskill