New Google Plus Community for Social Care in the UK
I constantly encounter the same complaint from people working in social care. “Why are there no positive news stories about care homes in the press? The papers only report the negative because it makes better reading!”
Consensus seems to suggest that journalists have it in for the industry, and perhaps not without reason. After all, it seems every day there is a genuine scandal involving the CQC, the police, a courtroom and a care home owner or employee. Sections of the industry are a shambles and will never be far away from an appearance in the local or national papers. The care sector makes easy pickings for the press, many of whom treat the industry as a bank of stories to be dipped into on slow news days.
Much of the industry is good, even great and provides outstanding care, while many people in the industry genuinely give of themselves to look after the people in their care. These care providers desperately want to distance themselves from the people who are only in the industry for the money, and the staff working in the industry begrudgingly.
The industry does have genuine problems that need reporting. Issues such as zero hours contracts and 15 minute visits in home care, carers being paid below a living wage or even being paid below the legal minimum wage. Such problems are generally caused by under funding and require political solutions. However, the media often gun for the easier targets and the rest of the industry does not want to be and does not deserve to be tarred with the same brush.
All industries struggle and buckle under pressure when attacked by the press, but some account for their actions better than others. The big six utility providers successfully argued their case re energy price rises recently, explaining that a large percentage of the electricity price increases being forced upon customers were due to green taxes, which subsidise solar panel installations for those who can afford them. In part they have batted the problem back to the government. It’s only a small victory but it was achieved very quickly, and only because the energy companies had a cohesive voice and communicated well.
There are around 30,000 care homes in the UK and the majority of them are owned by individuals who own three care homes or less. The industry is fragmented and there is no cohesive voice - they do not communicate well and they do not collaborate well. There are a couple of organisations that lobby government and they do have some successes in that quarter, but there is no appointed spokesperson for the industry that co-ordinates and communicates positive news stories to the press.
So which positive news stories should the press be hearing? Most are small stories and will only make local news such as sponsorship of the local youth football team, or a local fete at a care home. The industry needs to collaborate if they are going to get into the nationals with a positive story and the story will need to be big and of public interest. They will need to fight back with solid proof that the industry is not all bad. But will the industry go to any significant effort to explain itself or to fight back? The good providers don’t feel they have anything to prove and the poor providers just try to stay under the radar.
It is the good providers who are missing a trick here. Positive marketing could help them to be constantly full, while the poorer providers would be forced to pull their socks up or get out of the business and leave it to those providers who genuinely care.
The quality care providers need to shout louder about the great work they do and they should have a platform and a spokesperson to help them do it. I’m not looking for a job, but will happily support the right person if they want to start banging the drum.
We shouldn’t expect to get the press onside and we wouldn’t want to stop them reporting and exposing the care providers that deserve the negative attention, but the public should see more of the positive work, and hear more of the positive outcomes for people in care.
We are starting a community on Google Plus and will ask all care providers and the public if they wish to contribute their stories. Please join us and help make social care a more respected and trusted industry.
Join and contribute to our Google Plus community here Social Care UK
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