Karolina Gerlich, executive director at the Care Workers’ Charity, explains the importance of Professional Care Workers’ Week, which begins today (September 1).
The COVID-19 crisis has shone a light on the extremely important work that care workers across the country do everyday.
Even before the crisis it was well known that care workers are individuals with high levels of empathy and care that go above and beyond of what is expected of them. The pandemic only highlighted care workers’ efforts.
We have heard of care workers traveling extra miles everyday to reach everybody in need when staff absence due to COVID was high. We have seen pictures of care workers moving into care homes for many weeks to limit the spread of the virus and support people they work with.
Many have made huge sacrifices, putting their own health at risk, unable to see their families for extended periods of time and working extra hours. Many care workers have also lost lives in their commitment to their work. All in the name of maintaining, as much as possible, the highest quality of care and supporting people.
My personal experience of traveling on the London underground during lockdown was disturbing. Carriages empty, wartime-like announcements on the stations, and constant fear that even taking all of the necessary precautions I might take the virus to one of my clients.
We want everyone to celebrate and respect care workers just like we do teachers and nurses. Looking after other people is a job that deserves to be applauded, recognised and celebrated.
This is why our annual campaign Professional Care Workers’ Week exists. Raising the profile of care work as a profession, and reminding people that it requires a vast variety of skills and knowledge, that only a special kind of person can manage the demands of the role.
We know a lot of work needs to be done to generate more respect and recognition for care professionals. We want helpers to get as much help as they give. While care workers are great at looking after others, all too often they neglect themselves.
Clapping for carers earlier this year was a great initiative, but much more is needed to really lift the spirit of care workers and show them respect and recognition that they deserve.
We need to shout thank you from the rooftops, share great care worker stories online and campaign for recognition as highly skilled and essential workers.
Professional Care Workers’ Week happens every year, and although in its relative infancy, we really want the industry to adopt it, support it, and promote it proudly. Of course it isn’t just about one week of the year, but it’s the perfect opportunity to concentrate and focus on the valuable contribution of care workers. Ant the rest of the year – the sector needs to hold its head high and campaign for recognition every day!
Help the Care Workers’ Charity keep the UK caring by donating here.