The Chair of charity Faith in Later Life is urging the government to do more to address the country's lack of carers.
Stephen Hammersley was speaking to Premier after the latest figures show England has around 165,000 vacancies in the adult care sector, with more than ten per cent of social care jobs unfilled.
He says that although part of the problem is low pay, society needs to change the way it regards care work :
“I'm very concerned because something like one in ten positions in adult social care is unfilled. They’re paid for positions, but on top of that, there's something like half a million people who need care and can't get it. Because the government is rationing care by assessing people are not needing it when it's pretty obvious that they do. There's an army of unpaid carers as well as many vacancies in professional organisations that aren't getting the value and the support that they need.
“It’s been a low status role and society hasn't valued it. It's not just pay, it's more to do with value. We need to see caring when you're paid to care, as a really noble calling.
“Jesus says if you look after somebody in need, you're doing it as unto me, so we need society to value the work that people do.”
It comes as The Guardian is reporting the Health Service Journal as saying the government may be about to roll back on its promise to dedicate £500 million investment in social care, reducing it to £250 million.
The Department of Health and Social Care hasn’t denied the report. In a statement to The Guardian it said it remained committed to the 10-year vision for adult social care and added that a plan for reform of the system over the next two years will be published soon.
Mr Hammersley said the government needs to tackle the situation urgently:
“I'm deeply disappointed. There’s a long history of Prime Ministers saying that they will fix adult social care. But unfortunately, it keeps getting kicked down the road. So although there are there is talk of recognising and helping people who are caring, we don't really see that in action.
“Jesus says if you look after somebody in need, you're doing it as unto me, so we need society to value the work that people do.
“It’s an enormous challenge, but it's also an enormous opportunity. I think Christian people in the church can lead the way. A key part of this is to value both people who are older and frail, but also those who do the caring.”