COVID-19 We must protect staff in social care services

 Dame Donna Kinnair 7 May 2020 Chief Executive and General Secretary

Donna Kinnair addresses the impact of the virus on staff in social care services in her latest blog.

The UK public is known the world over for heaping heartfelt praise on “our NHS”. Social care – with its myriad of services and providers – is altogether more difficult to wear on a t-shirt. 

But the public is showing steadfast support for care workers. On Thursday evenings, the applause rings out for every person whose jobs require them to risk their health in the service of everyone else’s.

For years, professionals working in social care have felt that where they work is overlooked – a so-called ‘Cinderella service’. In this time of curfews and no ballgowns, those in our communities and care homes are in the eye of the same storm as their counterparts in ICU or other hospital services. 

Nurses and care staff working in long-term care settings have had the enormous challenge of protecting and supporting the individuals most at risk. But, in far too many cases, they have been left delivering care without adequate support or protection. 

Our members in these settings have written in to describe “flimsy” aprons, gloves or a lack of masks, goggles or visors. Earlier this week, we released findings from a recent member survey that showed workers in care are finding it harder to access testing than those in NHS work too. 

In some parts of our social care system, a cut-price culture is being exposed more than ever before and the public will support us in calling time on it. Without the security of full pay if they need to isolate, some care staff feel no choice but to keep working as long as they can – not only detrimental to themselves but those they’re caring for.  

The RCN will maintain its demands for the adequate and prompt testing of both staff and patients within all care homes.  This is essential as we try to reduce the spread of the infection and ensure your safety. 

The impact of this situation on you is significant and you are undoubtedly experiencing the full range of emotions as you give that care – saying goodbye to people you’ve come to know, made even harder when you know their families can’t do it in person. 

Remember to find ways to care for yourself and each other at this time. You can find a range of resources on our website and our advice centre is available to help with all your concerns. 

Dame Donna Kinnair

Dame Donna Kinnair

Chief Executive & General Secretary

Prior to her appointment as Acting Chief Executive & General Secretary, Dame Donna was Director of Nursing, Policy and Practice and worked with UK-wide RCN staff to drive and implement RCN professional nursing, policy and practice strategy.

Before joining the RCN, Donna held various roles, including Clinical Director of Emergency Medicine at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals Trust.
Donna advised the PM’s Commission on the future of Nursing and Midwifery in 2010 and served as nurse/child health assessor to the Victoria Climbié Inquiry.

Page last updated - 13/05/2020