Mental Health & The Social Care Reform – Helping both service users and care staff

With the government’s social care reform planned for September, there has been a lot of discussion about what this will entail, and which areas need immediate attention.

It is important to remember that a large number of our mental health services are provided by our Local Authorities through social care staff, and the continued underfunding of these services are not only putting service users in danger but also care staff who face financial instability and increased mental health issues of their own.

Andrew Lewer, MP for Northampton South, recently spoke about how a shortfall in social care can impact the ability of the local authorities to ensure the recovery of service users as the budgets are squeezed. This disruption also trickles down to the social care staff, who are expected to provide services under increasing pressure and with less access to resources.

Similarly, the recent Community Integrated Care #UnfairToCare report highlights the pay gap within social care and the increasing monetary insecurities that one of the UK’s largest employment sectors face on top of a pressurised work environment.  Mark Adams, leader of the campaign recently spoke to us about these pressures: “your job is to support vulnerable people, but you are one car breakdown from financial crisis yourself…we can’t have 1.6 million people looking after our vulnerable who are that vulnerable themselves.”

Mark Trewin, Social Worker and Head of Alliance Building at Rethink Mental Illness has explained many times the importance of Social Care services and health services working in harmony, with the NHS providing short term care, and local authorities providing the longer term, community-based care that is so vital for recovery. If the health service and local authorities are to succeed in an overarching mental health strategy for the UK, then our approach to services and support for staff, including fair pay across the board, is needed.

In order to ensure that not only service users are receiving proper community-based mental health care from our local authorities, but frontline social care staff are protected we must call on the government to ensure the social care reform recognises the importance of mental health in the upcoming social care reform plan.

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