Nadra Ahmed, the executive chair of the National Care Association, has been honored in the New Year Honours list for her exceptional contributions to social care. However, despite this recognition, she emphasises that the sector’s urgent plea for government support and investment continues to be ignored.
Ahmed has been actively advocating for increased investment in the chronically underfunded social care sector, which is currently grappling with the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and the escalating cost-of-living crisis. In an interview with the PA news agency, she expressed her overwhelming gratitude for the honor bestowed upon her, acknowledging the countless individuals who have gone above and beyond to deliver essential social care services. She humbly accepted the recognition on their behalf.
Known for her outspoken criticism of the government’s handling of social care, Ahmed finds the distinction of being made a CBE in this context to be refreshing. She maintains that she does not shy away from pointing out when the government has erred and feels that their failures in addressing the issues plaguing social care persist. She laments that despite clear messages from various voices, including her own, they seem to fall on deaf ears. Ahmed eagerly awaits a “light bulb moment” when the government will truly understand the urgency of the situation.
She emphasises the importance of fighting for the social care sector, which she considers the fabric of society. It provides ongoing care to individuals in need, not just during times of acute crisis. Ahmed also criticises those in power for vilifying the industry and using blame as an unnecessary weapon. According to her, these tactics are employed to divert attention from their own inadequacies in supporting the vulnerable.
Ahmed finds it challenging that the sector is often overshadowed by the NHS. She firmly states that social care is a sister organisation and should be recognised as such, rather than being solely evaluated by its contribution to supporting the NHS. She believes that the spotlight on the NHS downplays the crucial role played by social care. Without a well-supported and invested social care sector, the NHS itself will struggle.
For years, Ahmed has been campaigning for the government to establish an education pathway that brings credibility to careers in social care, an industry burdened with 165,000 vacancies and underfunding. She urges the government to take social care far more seriously and turn their words into action. Promises to fix social care are abundant, but tangible steps are lacking. Ahmed highlights the chronic underfunding that has led to the current state of social care. She questions society’s willingness to invest in the elderly and vulnerable individuals who depend on these services, emphasising the need for a deeper understanding of the issue.
When asked about her hopes for change, Ahmed expresses her optimism but emphasises the crucial need for a receptive ear that truly listens in order to feel confident about the future.