Talk Health and Care - more than words
When our Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock launched the Talk Health and Care online community in September 2018, he made good on his vision of a new and dynamic way to talk with health and care staff from across the sector.
The launch drew cynical responses from some quarters, with critics of the exercise dubbing it another PR exercise lacking substance - no different to so many other fads that come and go with the minister of the day.
Although I understand where this cynicism comes from, none-the-less, I still see the opportunities for engagement an online community like this presents.
Having discussed the Talk Health and Care platform with friends and colleagues there is definitely an enthusiasm to speak up about how we can all help improve the health and social care sector.
Having staff who feel empowered to talk with a genuine desire to change means nothing though if we fail to listen and constructively respond - these qualities are equally important parts of the jigsaw. So, it kind of fits, in the modern world, to bring these elements together in an online forum.
View from the inside
I have been working in the team overseeing the site since its launch. It has been a truly refreshing, exciting and eye-opening experience to see the inner workings of government up close.
There is a real desire within this department to listen to what is happening day to day from staff who are keen to tell their stories, share ideas and voice concerns. And if something isn’t working, my colleagues genuinely want to understand the issues and explore how we can make it better.
In the months since launch, we’ve seen plenty of positive testimony posted, but what saddens me are the comments around social care staff feeling undervalued – by the public, other professions and this department.
I know how much those who use care services value health and care professionals, who work tirelessly day in day out, often to the detriment of their own wellbeing, to make sure they deliver the very best possible care.
Their efforts to help people live as independently as possible, for as long as possible, are the glue that holds the whole health and social care system together.
Most importantly, their voices are heard and acted upon. For example, I saw first-hand the journey towards regulation of physician associates, right through from the initial idea to the policy announcement.
Recognition and reward
Meanwhile, I doubt few will argue that those who work in social care deserve greater recognition and appreciation. Our current challenge on the site is to find better ways to do just that.
We want to know what employee benefits and reward schemes are out there and how they support your work and celebrate success. Are there other ways employers could be recognising your efforts? Share your views, concerns and experiences.
Ministers and officials are listening now and I know there is so much to debate, discuss and – ultimately – do!
So please, take this opportunity to help us shape the future of adult social care – both for those who have made it a career and for the many thousands of friends, families and loved ones who have benefited from their compassion, dedication and desire to transform lives.