Care sector jobs crisis worse than before the pandemic, report finds

Social care workers not ‘recognised or valued’ and situation will only get worse, industry says

Holly Bancroft
Wednesday 13 October 2021 16:42
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The care sector is facing a recruitment crisis with more jons unfilled than before the pandemic, according to a report.

Social care chiefs pointed to the persistent undervaluing of care workers as one of the causes of the struggle to fill vacancies. One care home owner revealed that he had lost 55 per cent of his workforce this year due to tiredness and disillusionment with the industry.

A new report by charity Skills for Care found that an average of 6.8 per cent of roles in the adult social care sector were vacant in the year 2020/21. This is equivalent to 105,000 jobs being advertised on any given day.

In August, vacancy rates crept back above their pre-pandemic levels, with 8.2 per cent of all care sector roles being unfilled. Families also continued their shift to home care services over care homes, with the pandemic accelerating this trend.

Vic Rayner, chief executive of the industry body National Care Forum, said that it was clear from the data that “this is not a workforce that is recognised or valued”. She added: “We need to recognise the very clear warning signals that the growing number of vacancies, doubling levels of sickness and high rates of turnover represent.”

Levels of staff sickness nearly doubled over the course of the pandemic, the report found.

The data also showed that since March this year there has been a sharp drop in the number of people arriving in the UK to take up adult social care jobs.

Karolina Gerlich, chief executive of the Care Workers’ Charity, predicted the situation would only get worse, saying: “As many struggle with mental burnout and financial anxiety - we will see a sharp rise in vacancies as those who have stayed during the crisis reach their limit”.

She added: “As it is, Skills for Care estimates a turnover rate of 28.5 per cent (equating to 410,000 people) - and this is set to worsen, particularly as the sector has lost a huge potential pool of workers from the EU.”

Dr Kris Owden, the managing director of home care agency Caremark Aylesbury and Wycombe, told The Independent  that from January to September this year he has lost 72 carers due to tiredness and disillusionment.

“Carers are seen as unskilled who have no official voice, unlike other care and non-care professionals,” he said. “We managed to recruit 73 carers to replace the ones lost at a cost of £12,000. However, this does not even sustain our current patient workload as well as the increasing number of patients returning from hospital.

“We receive 10 new patients’ enquiries a day, and we cannot support these hospital discharges due to a lack of care staff.”

The NHS is facing a mounting beds crisis as care homes are forced to stop taking patients from hospitals.

Care home provider, MHA, told The Guardian on Wednesday that it had already had to close one in ten of its home to hospital discharges.

“My concern is with winter fast approaching and hospitals already approaching capacity we need to get patien’s home, Dr Owden said. “To do so means an effective and efficient social care infrastructure to do this, and we need care staff to facilitate this.”

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