The government has inherently demonstrated a significant lack of care for those in the support sector. Over the course of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, hand in hand with the developments of Brexit, we have seen those in this industry be left in an environment characterized by rising demands and depleting resources. That being said, the workers continue to show up and hold up, day in, day out, positive in spirits, to try and help better the lives of those who are systematically less fortunate and significantly more vulnerable than they are.
The physical and mental wellbeing of young people requiring support is undoubtedly paramount to everyone working in a support work role, but we must recognise that caregivers are regular people, with their own personal issues. It is both apparent and commended that workers are able to leave their hardships at the door; for the greater good of those more susceptible to complex mental health issues, unfortunately, accessibility to mental health services for the general population is scarce. Underfunding of the NHS has consequently made waiting lists to be seen far longer, inevitably putting a strain on not just the individual, but the industry as a whole.
Covid-19, for many, has highlighted the plain negligence for the health and social care sector. The Government had us clanging pots and pans and clapping for our carers every Thursday; a Ferry even did a little spin and honked it’s horn in the River Thames back in April 2020, to ‘show the nation's appreciation’ of all the work the support industry were doing. This did bring a sense of unity to the streets, and recognition of the great things that staff were doing. It also lured a lot of the population into believing that those in charge were the same as us; clapping for the same people, understanding our anxieties, listening to us. Was this a curtain of performative gestures, drawn shut to conceal and divert attention from the real issues? Considering the issues of underfunding are still prevalent, it unfortunately seems to ring true.
News and information about the coronavirus pandemic is seemingly unavoidable, with every media platform keeping us up to date with all things Covid. However, there is, of course, a quieter pandemic of mental health. We can draw similarities and correlations between the two; with a death toll, comes an emotional toll. In the first lockdown, there was actually a dip in suicide rates, anxieties and depression became shared accross the country, and a strong sense of comradery was felt by all. When reality inevitably started to set in, these numbers began to rise significantly, leaving individuals feeling isolated with little support, and those working in the healthcare economy inundated with increased workloads but depleting workforces.
Covid has fundamentally changed how establishments deliver support. Until early 2022, the isolation period for positive test results or having been in contact with someone who tested positive was 10 days. In such a hands-on role, working from home is simply not plausible. For smaller corporations who rely on their permanent staff, a huge strain was forced upon them.