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Social care faces a 'dangerous shortfall' of staff, government warned

Posted on 22/06/2018 by

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More than 75% of people say they would not like to begin a career in social care, survey finds

Ministers have been warned of a “dangerous shortfall” of care workers, as a new survey reveals barely one in five people would consider a career in the sector.

Almost seven in 10 people think a care career is undervalued by society – and more than two in 10 think care work is not valued by the government, the survey suggests.

The survey comes just days after the health and social care secretary, Jeremy Hunt, announced that a workforce strategy for the entire health and care system, hailed as the first of its kind, would not now appear as planned this summer. A green paper on older people’s social care, which was due to appear alongside, has also been postponed.

England’s adult social care sector has some 90,000 vacancies on any one day and an average turnover rate of 28%, according to sector skills agency Skills for Care.

The survey, carried out by Censuswide for housing and care provider Anchor, revealed that 78% of people said they would not like to begin a career in social care and 71% of parents said they would not encourage their children to do so.

Of almost 2,200 people polled, including more than 550 aged 16-25, 67% thought a social care career was undervalued by society and 22% considered the work not valued by the government.

Outlining the findings in a letter to Hunt [pdf], the Anchor chief executive, Jane Ashcroft, says: “Only by the government demonstrating it values social care and its workforce will we have a chance to recruit and retain the hardworking and committed staff our ageing population and vulnerable adults need and deserve.

“We need a public awareness campaign to raise the profile of care, sustainable funding and recognition of the hard work that so many people working in social care do.”

The letter, also signed by Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, which represents care providers, and Stephen Burke, director of social enterprise United for All Ages, warns of a “dangerous shortfall” in care worker numbers and expresses concern at the further delay in the green paper.

The findings come as the care sector itself takes steps to address its recruitment crisisHousing & Care 21, a provider of services for older people, has announced a radical overhaul of pay and conditions for its care workers – and care home chain HC-One and the GMB trade union have launched Careforce, a joint drive to promote care careers.

The initiative was launched on Wednesday evening at the Houses of Parliament, when the organisations signed a national recognition agreement covering HC-One’s 300-plus homes. It is designed to professionalise the care worker role and develop career paths to improve recruitment and retention. Other providers will be encouraged to join the scheme.

Justin Hutchens, HC-One chief executive, said: “All care providers need to build a stable workforce, because demand for care services is significantly outstripping our capacity to recruit and retain care workers.”

Tim Roache, GMB general secretary, said his father was 96 and likely to need residential care soon. “It matters a lot to me that he and his generation are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve by care workers who are valued – and who can pursue a rewarding career that they value.”

Welcoming the initiative, Skills for Care chair, Dame Moira Gibb, said although it was “hard not to be downhearted” after Hunt’s announcement, the kind of partnership demonstrated by the Careforce approach was the way forward for the sector.

Meanwhile, Housing & Care 21, which supports more than 30,000 older people living in its extra-care schemes, has revamped its pay structures in what it calls a first for the sector. Care workers now start on a rate 10% above the national minimum wage and all permanent staff have contracts guaranteeing their hours.

Tony Tench, the group’s chief operations officer, said: “Our residents tell us that the quality and continuity of their care staff is really important to them, so we want to do our best to attract and retain really good people.”

Source: TheGuardian