Cllr Jonathan Bacon at Northbrooke House Nursing Home with resident Muriel Allington. Picture by Robin Crossley.
ISLE of Wight politicians should spend the day with a care worker to find out what the job really involves, an independent councillor said this week.
After meeting staff and residents at a dementia unit at Northbrooke House Nursing Home, Havenstreet, Cllr Jonathan Bacon said it was impossible for councillors to make decisions about adult social care without first experiencing life at the coal face.
The Brading, Bembridge and St Helens member said: "Policy makers cannot make informed decisions without experiencing the reality of the situation.
"Planning committee members go on site visits and, similarly, I think councillors should go to care homes before they make decisions about adult social care policy.
"You cannot get an adequate understanding of dementia or the workings of the care system just from training courses or reading."
Cllr Bacon was one of four independent councillors to accept an invitation from John Luckett, a care worker concerned about cuts to health and social care services, to spend a day shadowing care home staff.
There were no Conservative volunteers, as council leader Cllr David Pugh said it would be inappropriate for politicians to seek to emulate the role of professional care workers.
Cllr Bacon said he was sceptical about Cllr Pugh’s claim more money than ever was being invested in social care services.
He said: "You can do anything with figures but care workers I have spoken to from different homes — and I take my view from the people at the sharp end of care work — say funding changes have had an impact.
"The feeling is there is less money and even small changes in funding have direct repercussions on the experience of patients and the quality of care they receive.
"I was shocked, for example, to learn some carers take patients to the hairdresser or Alzheimer’s Cafe in their own time."