Each year the headlines going into the NHS winter seem to forecast a bleaker outlook.
Whilst the 1st October still feels very autumnal, the build up to this years NHS winter is underway.
Which is worrying if you are responsible for arranging services for people who will need some extra support from adult social care to help them home from hospital. In adult social care we rely on so called winter monies to fund out of hours, home care, intermediate care and transitional beds, all of which get people out of hospital and back to their communities so they can complete their convalescence and recovery. This winter however the signs are that these funds won’t reach social care. The NHS winter is biting and hospitals are needing every penny health commissioners can find.
This is further destabilising fragile social care providers, many of which are small local businesses who are really struggling to make things stack up. As reported by the Kings Fund & Nuffield Trust social care providers face huges pressures in terms of retaining staff, maintaining quality and staying in business.
Our experience is that small, local providers are full of caring, passionate people who are trying to make social care work despite the challenges. People like Mark, whose story from 5.05 minutes into this video about what happened on Boxing Day 2015 when the River Calder broke its banks left me speachless when I first heard it.
Mark and his team faced the worst that winter could throw at them. But driven by deeply held convictions that it was their job to care, they are made social care work in the most challenging of circumstances.
Going into this winter we are anxious, but we haven’t lost hope. People have an incredible capacity for caring and to find humour and happiness in the bleakest of circumstances.
So going into the social care winter 2016 here are our suggestions:
1. Remember why you work in the social care sector. You care. If you didn’t you could earn more somewhere else.
2. Nevet forget you are a guest in people’s lives and this is a huge privilege. The minute it stops feeling that way it is time to move on.
3. Create space with your friends and coworkers to talk about the people you are here to serve and support. Every person is a bright spark of colour in your life. Sharing those sparks might catch a fire to keep you and your colleagues warm during the darkest of days when the pressure is on.