With coronavirus continuing to have an impact across the country, one woman speaks out about the desperate need to support a social care system on the brink of collapse.
Diana McGovern suffers from MS and is confined to a wheelchair. She relies on her carers to complete the simple day to day tasks we all take for granted.
Without “her angels” as she calls them, it would be impossible for her to remain in her own home.
She is deeply concerned about the crisis facing the social care system in this country and believes any further pressure on it, such as a second wave of COVID19, would lead to its collapse.
“Protect the NHS is their claim but who is protecting the carers?” asks Diana.
“An army of unsung heroes dedicated to looking after patients in their own homes with compassionate dignity and respect, preventing bed blocking in hospitals, allowing doctors and nurses to continue the vital work of saving lives. They work seamlessly as a team, but could the NHS function without carers?
“Nurses study diligently to become qualified and proudly wear their badge of office but carers also wear badges! Their challenge is to enhance and retain a quality of life for people who suffer from a complex and wide range of medical conditions.
“It’s a demanding, responsible and emotionally draining career but one which offers tremendous job satisfaction. They are compensated with a wage less than that of a supermarket worker, while having to provide their own car and phone to carry out their duties.
“On top of an already difficult situation they were handed the challenge of COVID-19. They were expected to care for and nurture patients discharged from hospital, cope with distressed relatives and battle to save the lives of the sick and dying, with little support or guidance – all while trying to protect their own lives and the lives of their families.
“The media has highlighted how wonderful our carers are and revealed the very inadequate wages they receive. Has any policy maker or government addressed this disgraceful situation? NO.
“Have we not learned from past mistakes? We may be living with a pandemic now, but we may be facing an even greater crisis soon, with winter flu and further lockdowns possible.”
She continues: “Doctors and nurses are making contingency plans, but what about recruiting carers? The strain on the skeleton level of care workers we have now is enormous. Any additional stress placed on the system would surely see it collapse.
“Does it take the voice of a person completely wheelchair bound, living independently with the support of carers, to highlight the urgent problem of recruiting and paying an appropriate decent living wage to all carers? Is the government ignoring this crisis?
“Nicola Sturgeon has stood up for Scotland and been applauded. Can she now take urgent action to recruit and increase the pay to compensate and reward our dedicated carers?
“We are dependent on the NHS, but in a crisis, we rely on our trusted carer.
“How do we keep and recruit careers when they don’t receive a decent pay? We need to pay now not tomorrow, or the government may have bigger crisis on their hands.
“Unless action is taken now, the system will crash. We must act before it’s too late.”