Dec 21

An end of year message from our CEO Oonagh Smyth

Posted: 22 December 2021

I can’t quite believe it’s that time of year again!

Firstly, I would like to wish everyone working across social care a merry festive season and a very happy new year. I also want to extend a heartfelt thank you for all your hard work through what has been another challenging year. Your dedication to providing care and support to our communities is truly appreciated.

We know that for those working across social care, the hard work doesn’t stop over the festive period. We know that you will be continuing to deliver vital care during the winter to support everyone in keeping safe, connected, and living the lives they choose throughout the winter season. We appreciate that winter can be one of the most challenging times of year for social care. The ongoing impact of COVID-19 this year will also bring its own challenges, and much remains unknown as to how this will develop in the coming months.

To help to prepare social care managers and their teams for the busy winter period, we’ve put together a guide to getting ready for winter touching on topics including safe staffing, contingency planning, and COVID-19 precautions and support. We hope this will help with your winter planning and operations.

Throughout December we’ve also been taking time to share some good news stories from across the sector. While the pandemic and its impact on issues like recruitment and retention, has meant that people working across social care have faced another demanding year, we also know that they’ve continued to thrive on making a real difference to the people they support, and building genuine relationships with a focus on person-centred care.

Teams from across social care have shared with us some of their highlights through the year that have continued to provide the necessary motivation and joy needed during these times, including celebrations of landmark birthdays, innovative virtual activities, and even the addition of two new kittens for one residential care home.

As we approach the end of the year, we’ve also been sharing our own highlights from Skills for Care. We know how hard people working in social care have been working to provide vital care to our communities, and we’re proud to have been able to support this wherever we could.

Highlights from our work this year include the launch of our annual ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report which provides a detailed picture of the social care sector, and the release of our ‘The value of adult social care’ report which analysed the economic impact of adult social care, finding that social care contributes at least £50.3billion to the economy.

Our reports play a key role in helping to shape social care policies and decisions, and these reports wouldn’t be possible without the 20,000 adult social care providers who share their data in our Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS); to all of you I would like to extend a very big thank you. This year we officially marked the launch of ASC-WDS and introduced our new Benefits Bundle providing exclusive offers for our ASC-WDS account holders.

We took the decision to pause our annual Accolades awards this year, due to attention being focused on delivering safe and effective care in response to the pandemic. But we wanted to keep alive the spirit of the ceremony, so we launched our first Accolades awards magazine where we caught up with some of our previous winners to share best practice and inspiration.

Given the current circumstances a key focus of our work this year has been on providing wellbeing support, and our new ‘Wellbeing resource finder’ provides a hub to easily find a large selection of resources to support the wellbeing of managers and their teams.

Supporting equality and diversity has also continued to be a key focus of our work, and we were delighted to see that our ‘Moving up’ programme which supports leaders with a diverse background to take the next step in their career was fully booked for 2021.

We’ve turned our attention to providing as much virtual support as possible this year to remain accessible while face-to-face interactions have been limited. We were thrilled to see high attendance across the hundreds of virtual events we ran this year, and our website has also seen high levels of engagement as we’ve aimed to keep our platform updated with news, information, and resources to support everyone working across social care throughout the year.

Our registered manager support has also been offered digitally, through virtual local networks, WhatsApp groups, and our registered managers’ Facebook group. We’re pleased to hear from managers that they’ve found these opportunities to connect with their peers an invaluable source of support.

This year also saw the launch of our four-year strategy, which will guide us on our activity through to 2025 as we work towards our mission to support and empower current and future social care leaders, employers, and teams.

As 2022 approaches we don’t know exactly what the year holds, but I do know that people working in social care will tackle whatever the year brings with the same hard work, skill, and passion as always, and at Skills for Care we will continue to be agile in providing support where it has the most impact.