A new study of public attitudes towards social care in Wales following the COVID-19 pandemic has been published.
The research, conducted by Dr Simon Williams, a Psychology lecturer at Swansea University, commissioned by Senedd Cymru and produced in consultation with Senedd Research, comprised an online survey which was completed by 2,569 respondents between February 11 and March 11, 2022. Online focus groups were also conducted with a sample of 14 participants. The inclusion criteria were adults aged 18 years and over living in Wales.
Key findings of the study conclude that:
- Four-in-10 respondents felt that they, someone in their household or a close family member needed social care in the last two years, but did not receive or make use of it.
The study reports staff shortages, the pandemic, being deemed ineligible or otherwise not being offered care, not wanting to ask for help and the complex application process as the main reasons for respondents not receiving or making use of social care.
- Overall satisfaction with social care services was variable.
Approximately one-third of respondents were either very or quite dissatisfied and a little over half were either very or quite satisfied with social care services for themselves, someone in their household or a close family member.
- 86% of respondents felt that the social care system in Wales was in need of reform.
In addition, 94% of respondents felt that reforming the social care system should be a priority for the UK and Welsh Governments.
- 85% of respondents felt that reducing the costs of social care for those that need it should be a priority for the UK and Welsh Governments.
Furthermore, 95% of respondents agreed that social care should be valued in the same way as health care and 91% agreed that social care workers should be seen as equal to health care workers. 78% of respondents agreed that social care staff should have comparable pay, 83% responded in favour of similar working conditions and 82% agreed that career progression opportunities for social care staff should be relative to equivalent career stage NHS staff.
Unsatisfactory pay, unsatisfactory working terms and conditions, unsatisfactory career security and progression pathways, better opportunities in other sectors, burn out, excessive work, lack of recognition or value given to the profession and the added strain of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social care workforce were all rated by respondents as playing an important role in the shortage of social care staff, the study reports.
Moreover, the need for more consistency, personalisation, integration, recognition and investment in social care were all themes that emerged in the focus groups, according to the study. Specifically, participants argued that there was a need for more consistency in the social care received, a need for more personalised care, a need for better integration between health and social care and a need for more investment in social care. Some respondents felt that reform should see the integration of social care into the NHS, while others argued for the establishment of a separate National Care Service, the study summarises.
Commenting on the study of public attitudes towards social care in Wales following the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Williams said, 'It is concerning that approximately four-in-10 of those feeling in need of social care did not receive or make use of social care services.
'Social care policymakers and providers should seek to understand and address what people feel are the main barriers to accessing or using social care, including: increasing provision for those who need it; encouraging and enabling those who feel they need social care to apply (and working to de-stigmatise social care); consider broadening the eligibility criteria where appropriate; simplifying and providing more support for applying to/accessing social care.'
To read the study in full, visit the PsyArXiv website.
In other news, the Welsh Government has launched a new vision, outlining how the Government aims to champion older people and challenge the way people think about ageing.