The Commission on Care project began in 2016 and alongside our major programme of work –resulting in the 2016 PSA Commission on Care Report Towards a New Deal for Care and Carers – we also regularly publish blogs on issues relating to the care crisis in the UK. Our blogs have brought large numbers of readers to our website and have enabled us to continue to develop discussions of key issues that were raised in our report. The blogs have also provided a space for project research assistants (including student research assistants from the department of Politics and International Studies at the University of Warwick) and other stakeholders to explore important issues around care and caring in the UK today. We welcome contributions to our blog from those who share our interest in finding a long term solution to the UK’s care crisis that recognises the need to address the specific burdens of care that fall upon women and the UK’s ethnic minority population. Drop us a message on @psa_care on twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In what follows we present our blog top 10 ‘greatest hits’. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets about unveiling his ‘masterplan’ to rescue the social care sector ‘within months’, we think these blogs, as well as some of the newer blogs that appear on our website, provide much needed reflection on the state of the adult social care sector, the funding challenges and the need to better recognise how the care crisis has specifically gendered effects and impacts on BAME groups.
- Five Years Since Dilnot: Are we Back to Square One by Dr Nick Taylor, 18th August 2016. Our most popular blog to date which has been shared widely on social media and elsewhere. Nick Taylor examines the ongoing uncertainties around social care funding that stemmed from government failures to implement the recommendations of the 2011 Dilnot report on fairer care funding. With the issue of finding a long term solution to social care funding set to dominate the health and social care policy discussions over the term of the next parliament, Nick’s blog is certainly worth another read.
- The Gendered Nature of Care by Dr Sara Wallin, 17th May 2016. This blog set out why we need to recognise that the adult social care crisis in the UK is profoundly gendered. Sara’s blog highlights how austerity policies in the sector have disproportionately impacted women and calls for ‘reforms and regulation that centre on promoting equality’.
- Care Crisis – Whose Crisis by Prof Ruth Pearson, 17th February 2017. This blog formed the basis of a talk that Ruth Pearson gave at one of the Commission on Care Report launch events. Ruth served as a Commissioner on the PSA Commission on Care project and is a member of the Women’s Budget Group. The blog matters because, in addition to highlighting the gendered impacts and burdens of care, it seeks to problematise the way in which crisis narratives dominate discussions of adult social care. Ruth highlights the problem of looking at social care simply through the lens of its impact on a crisis-struck NHS. She argues that such a lens means that we only focus on those older people with the most pressing care needs and what gets lost is any commitment to providing the kind of ‘everyday care’ that enables older people to live well into old age.
- Social Care, Parental Care, Unpaid Care: The Guilt Trip that Let’s Government off the Hook by Prof Juanita Elias and Prof Shirin Rai, 15th February 2017. This blog was written by two of the Commissioners involved in the PSA Commission on Care. It responded to comments made by the former parliamentary undersecretary of state for health who had suggested that a solution to the care crisis lay with more people taking on responsibilities for caring for their parents. The blog points to the problems with such a perspective, and raises the concern that such policy solutions invariably result in more and more women being expected to take on extensive care responsibilities within families. Moreover, the authors argue that: ‘The family is not an unproblematic site of affective bonds and altruistic behaviours; As much as we cherish idealised images of the caring family unit. Family relationships can be and sometimes are abusive and unstable, which doesn’t make it the best space of care for older people.’
- The Context of Care in Times of Austerity by Dr Sara Wallin, 4th May 2016. This blog honed in on the impact of austerity related cut-backs on the social care sector. The blog looked at a number of issues including the impact of funding cuts to local authorities and the challenges that they faced in providing a minimum standard of care to older people in need. It also examined how austerity was fuelling the further marketisation and privatisation of the sector, and the declining conditions of paid and unpaid workers who perform the vital work of care.
- Children’s care Work: forms, costs and support mechanisms by Anni Piiroinen 13th December 2017. Written by a student research assistant from the department of Politics & International Studies at Warwick University, this blog looked at the issue of child carers. This was an issue that was beyond the scope of the work of the PSA Commission on Care Report, but is an appreciation of the work of child and young carers is vital to understanding how families are increasingly taking up the slack of a failing social care system. Anni conducted one-on-one interviews with child carers and was also involved in a survey of parents as well as interviews with support workers. The blog reflects on the mental and physical burdens and costs of caring by engaging with work pioneered by PSA Commission on Care Commissioner Prof Shirin Rai on ‘depletion’.
- Caring for older people in England: Some Critical Issues by Dr Sara Wallin, 24th May 2016. This blog sets out the need for policy and regulatory reforms that would bring better accountability to the adult social care sector. This includes a call for a greater commitment (and funding) to enable local authorities to provide more than just minimum obligations and a professionalization of the care workforce. These reforms, it is argued would benefit women and also many BAME groups who continue to face difficulties and discriminatory structures and practices in accessing care.
- Social Care and the Tory Manifesto by Prof Juanita Elias, 18th May 2017. This blog provides a commentary on how the issue of social care emerged as a major issue in the 2017 general election. The blog added the voice of the PSA Commission on Care to the widespread criticisms of the policy proposals that were outlined in Teresa May’s 2017 manifesto. The blog calls for a bolder policy vision in which care for older people is seen as a collective social responsibility rather than an individualised responsibility which results in family members (and women in particular) being increasingly relied upon as unpaid carers.
- Social care: Who will you vote for? 3rd June 2017. This blog was produced in collaboration with student research assistants from the department of Politics & International Studies at the University of Warwick. It outlines where the different political parties in England stood on the social care agenda in 2017, and provided a brief analysis. This was an exercise that we replicated more recently for the 2019 election, and we have also examined the social care commitments being made by the Conservative Party leadership candidates in the 2019 leadership contest.
- How we involved patients and carers in research: The SHARED STUDY by Dr Carole Mockford 23rd February 2017. Carole Mockford spoke at one of the events that we organised during the evidence collecting phase of the work of the PSA Commission on Care. Her project involved working with patients and their carers to discover the particular problems that older people experiencing memory loss faced when they were initially discharged from hospital. Her study makes some very practical recommendations regarding the need for the NHS and social care providers to develop more coordinated approaches to patient care, but it also is a study that reveals, quite starkly, the incredible burdens faced by family members involved in caring for older people with complex needs.