By Neil Crowther
Covid19 led to a pause in our work to develop a new narrative to help win support for the #socialcarefuture we’re seeking, but the pandemic has created a new urgency to get this work done:
- Social care has certainly been in the headlines, but not for good reasons. If the public didn’t have an appreciation for what social care was before the pandemic, they could be forgiven for thinking it is wholly about older people living – or dying – in care homes and little more.
- The public may have ‘clapped for carers’ but it would be unwise to imagine their thoughts and feelings about social care are in a better place than before the pandemic.
- The ‘social care crisis’ language we warned of before the pandemic has now been taken over by the ‘coronavirus social care crisis’, yet the solutions seem more elusive than ever in the public story, which risks deepening despondency about the future.
- Ministers talk of ‘people in social care’ framing it as place or destination, not as a vehicle for a better life
- Paternalistic language concerning ‘the elderly and vulnerable’ has been in the ascendance during lockdown
While there are some positive signs, such as the close proximity of the vision and language of the Local Government Association to ours, if we want to shift the narrative and thinking towards the left hand side of the column below, we’ve got work to do.
So what are we doing next?
Having laid the groundwork in building an understanding of how the media, sector campaigners, politicians and Twitter users talk about social care, we’re now going to turn our attention in depth to understanding how the public thinks, feels and talks about care and support.
We’re delighted to now be working with strategic communications experts Equally Ours, public audience research experts Survation and a Working Group representing the #socialcarefuture network including Wendy Mitchell, Jordan Smith, Clenton Farquharson, Bryony Shannon, Philly Hare, Karyn Kirkpatrick, Sian Lockwood and Wendy Lowder to deliver the next stage of this work.
Using a range of qualitative methodologies we’re going to start by taking a deep dive into how public audiences talk, think and feel about care and support, including their response to our existing vision. This evidence will help us to consider and to develop a number of frames and messages to test with members of the public during the next stage of research, where we’ll explore how best to communicate our vision and approach, using both quantitative and qualitative methods. We’ll also be surveying local councillors to see how different framing and messages land with them. This evidence will in turn form the basis of advice and guidance that we’re hoping to have available in the autumn on how to communicate our vision and ideas effectively.
In keeping with the approach we’ve adopted throughout this work, as well as our working group, we’ll be creating opportunities to share emerging findings with our wider network and to invite comments and ideas about the best way forwards.
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