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Chief Executive Update

10/4/2020

Once again, last Thursday’s #ClapforCarers was really heart-warming and encouraging to hear. It is an unprecedented public appreciation of the vital work that those working in health and social care do and a significant, collective recognition of how that is very important in the world. But for me, it’s not without a degree of poignancy. One of the things that this pandemic has really drawn into sharp focus is how undervalued, underestimated and unappreciated social care has been; mistakenly viewed by many as low skilled when in fact it is highly skilled and of great value.
 
As a former nurse, I know there are many tasks that are now undertaken in social care that used to be considered a 'nursing task'. I think many people do not understand or appreciate how this has changed over the years. Equally, many of the people Cornerstone support have incredibly complex needs, both physical and behavioural, and yet the funding we receive for these services has been squeezed and squeezed over the years. 40 years ago the people we support would have been kept in hospital settings with very little quality of life. Now they are able to live fulfilled lives within their communities because of a skilled and experienced social care workforce; invaluable workforces like Cornerstone.

I warmly welcome the Scottish Government Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman’s announcement yesterday of an immediate pay uplift for all social care workers to at least the Real Living Wage rate of £9.30 an hour. That, coupled with the recognition of the vital role social care workers are playing during the current pandemic, was certainly heartening to hear, if not long overdue.  We will continue to put pressure on funding bodies, seeking long-term assurances of increased and secure funding across the sector, as well as a sustained level of recognition commensurate to the importance of the care being delivered.   
 
What this pandemic has shown is that the services and support Cornerstone provide are as important as those provided by the health sector - not second in line, not an afterthought, but essential and vital services that communities can't live without. Two of the most pressing issues of this crisis for us - the use of PPE and the availability of testing - threw into sharp relief where national priorities were, until decision-makers have gradually begun to realise that there are many, many individuals who cannot survive in our communities without a highly-dedicated, willing and appropriately supported social care workforce.  We will continue to push for more testing, clarity and adequate supplies of PPE, to make sure our workforce and the people we support are kept as safe as absolutely possible. 
 
I genuinely hope and believe, that once we all get through this crisis, there will be a real opportunity for society to re-evaluate where our priorities lie and what skills are really important. To re-assess how we look after the most vulnerable people in our society, to redefine what we value and, importantly, how, as a society, we adequately reward those that do the essential “looking after”.
 
I would encourage you to follow some of the many Cornerstone Facebook and Twitter pages we have out there. There are so many heart-warming stories from our colleagues and the people we support, showing how they are coping - keeping themselves busy and entertained during the lockdown. There's so much creativity going on it's amazing!
 
I’ll certainly be out clapping again next week in recognition of the absolutely vital role Cornerstone staff play within our communities across the country, and society as a whole!
 
Hazel