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A Tortoise File

Social care

Social care

First published
Thursday 21 May 2020

Last updated
Wednesday 18 November 2020

Why this story?

We can only change what we really understand. Deaths in care homes have been a source of sadness and shame. But when you take a longer look, it’s clear that this is a scandal in plain sight that goes well beyond the coronavirus.

There’s been a collective looking away from an industry that operates increasingly offshore and out of sight. It’s a public service heavily invested by private equity and weighed down by debt. It’s delivered big payouts to the owner-executive class, while the frontline carers are on the minimum wage. It’s seen next to no increase in public funding, while the fees for private residents keep ratcheting up. Over the past decade in the UK, every prime minister has promised to tackle social care. None of them have.

Might Covid-19 do for social care what World War Two did for the NHS? Might it finally force a new deal? And, if so, what would that look like?