Recently my attention at Wiltshire Council has turned from the failures of its major contractor – Balfour Beatty – to the more pressing matter of adult social care. Through the steady and focused work of a Scrutiny task group, grass cutting, road maintenance, etc has noticeably improved. Whereas we are now starting to see more and more heart rending failures, at times involving cruelty and neglect, in the provision of social care to the most vulnerable in our community.
This is manifest in the number of damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports of adult social care in Wiltshire. The Cabinet at County Hall needs to make this matter an utmost priority.
Having looked carefully at the problem, I am forced to conclude that the fundamental cause is that the esteem and rewards of care work are nowhere near high enough. In a civilised society, such activity should guarantee a respected, secure and well paid career. Experience indicates that it is very often the exact opposite. Everything conspires to push costs down and those in care end up paying the price. Unless this changes, it is almost predictable that we will see more critical CQC reports.
With a growing elderly and infirm population, increasing rates of dementia and continuing government austerity, matters are most unlikely to improve. In contrast to grass cutting failures, this will by no means be easy to tackle. Nonetheless, it is a challenge that all Wiltshire citizens have a responsibility to confront.
Independent Wiltshire Councillor