Two social care organisations have come up with a novel way to recognise the 8.6 million paid and informal carers in the UK, giving them a means to express their solidarity and a sense of pride in what they do.
The idea is simple – a badge that can be worn by those engaged in and supporting the care sector, much like the well-recognised NHS badge.
The CARE badge is now available to employers and will be officially launched at the Residential and Home Care Show in London on June 26 by founding members, everyLIFE Technologies and Care England.
The idea came about when everyLIFE chairman Robin Batchelor was listening to a talk by Care England CEO Professor Martin Green at the recent Future of Care conference.
At the end of the talk, Green spoke about the unfortunate message that the Secretary of State for Social Care, Matt Hancock, inadvertently sends to those involved in care by only wearing the NHS lapel badge.
“I turned to my colleague from everyLIFE and said ‘we should work with Care England to change that’,” says Batchelor. “I caught up with Martin after that and his immediate reaction was ‘yes, this makes sense’. The sector needs a unifying symbol of pride and quality and care and it was relatively easy to do.”
The founding partners have started a company called The CARE Badge Community Interest Company (CIC) to buy the badges from the manufacturer and sell them at a cost of £1 each to care providers and employers that interact with un-paid carers, with all profits going to charities selected by care workers.
“This could be supermarkets, petrol stations, banks, insurers of care homes or pharmacies. If you have 7 million unpaid carers and 1.6m paid care workers, that’s 13% of the UK population,” says Batchelor.
“Any large employer is going to have carers in their company and this is way for them to say ‘we recognise some of the pressure you are under and we support you’.”
Backing the project, Green says: “There’s been a real desire to see this in the care sector. We need to have something that unifies us. Robin has been amazing. It took him about a fortnight to deliver this from having the idea. That can-do attitude has been the thing that’s driven this and also the enthusiasm of the sector to have this and say we support it. I have been talking to organisations such as the National Care Forum and they are all very supportive of this.
“Robin wanted this badge to be the same quality as the NHS badge. The policy agenda says we have joined up [with the health sector], but I have seen little evidence of it. This is a way of showing that people should take pride in being care workers, as well as being health workers.”
everyLIFE will manage the project and fund an initial stock of 10,000 badges while Care England, a representative body for independent care services in England, will encourage members of Parliament associated with care, local authorities and directors at the Care Quality Commission to wear and promote the CARE badge.
“I am going to talk to government about it,” says Green. “I am hoping to get the Care Minister [Caroline Dinenage] to tweet a photo of her wearing the badge. My plan is to make sure that everyone on a Select Committee or an all-party group that deals with care gets a badge. Likewise, politicians from the opposition and people in the Lords who have a really big interest in care. I think we can get some good political traction and it will be cross party because everybody is committed to supporting the care that people need in society. I shall look forward to seeing Matt Hancock wearing it alongside his NHS badge.
“I think we will also get some good responses from local authorities because they are very committed to care. I am sure they will see this is a good way of championing social care. And we will be having some really clear discussions with CQC. It’s brilliantly timed because we have the new Chief Inspector [Kate Terroni] coming in. I am sure that she will endorse this.”
Batchelor adds: “This is about the care sector and the fact that it impacts so many people. You have 13% of the population providing care, and they are providing it to at least one person every day. This is a significant part of the UK’s population and we want to recognise that and everyone to understand that it matters and give it a little bit of raised esteem and a bit more pride. If you wear a CARE badge it says you are proud to be part of the sector and with that pride comes quality care.”
Employers can buy CARE badges from www.thecarebadge.org and as the campaign rolls forward, care professionals will be encouraged to post pictures of themselves wearing the badge, along with stories about what the badge means to them, on social media.
“We have Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and we will have people publishing pictures showing how they care and explaining what it means for them. That will come from corporate to care workers, unpaid carers to families of care,” says Batchelor.
The aim of the campaign is to start conversations, explains Batchelor. “If you are walking down the street and you see someone wearing the badge you now know that they are related to care and you can ask them what that means to them. You may be working your socks off caring for somebody and not having anyone to talk to and feeling a bit lonely. It starts to create that group feeling of belonging to something and allows a little bit of pride to come back into the sector,” he says.
Caption: Care Badge founding partners Robin Batchelor (L) and Martin Green.