‘No better time to be care worker’, public told in new recruitment campaign

Ministers enthuse about ‘exciting and rewarding’ career in bid to tackle dire staff shortages

Adam Forrest
Wednesday 03 November 2021 00:53
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<p>Boris Johnson during a visit to Westport Care Home in Stepney Green</p>

Boris Johnson during a visit to Westport Care Home in Stepney Green

Boris Johnson’s government has launched a huge recruitment campaign to fill more than 100,000 empty roles in England’s ailing social care sector.

A TV advert and social media campaign will tell the public “there’s no better time to become a care worker” as ministers attempt to stave off the dire staffing shortage in the sector.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the ‘Made With Care’ ads will run for the next five months in a bid to encourage people to pursue a “exciting and rewarding” career in the sector.

Care providers have warned that they are at “breaking point”, with some struggling to provide safe care due to the acute shortage of workers.

The Care Quality Commission said many are quitting for better paid roles in hospitality and tourism, and warned of a “serious and deteriorating” situation in both recruitment and staff retention.

Experts in the sector say burnout from the last 18 months of the pandemic, low and uncompetitive levels of pay, and the requirement for care home staff to get vaccinated against Covid are all pushing staff to leave.

The new TV advert, featuring real care workers, will premiere on Wednesday and run until November 21 on ITV, Sky and Channel 4 – with the government promising the roles available offer both “variety” and “flexible hours”.

Health secretary Sajid Javid said a career in social care is “rewarding and inspiring”, adding: “We need more people who possess the core values this workforce embody so strongly – kindness, compassion and resilience – to look after our friends and family with dignity and respect.”

According to workforce body Skills for Care, on average 6.8 per cent of adult social care roles were unfilled on any given day in 2020-21 – around 105,000 vacancies.

Vacancies have been rising steadily since May, and are now above pre-pandemic levels. Skills for Care’s latest annual report also found that turnover was high, at 28.5 per cent, equating to approximately 410,000 people leaving over the course of the year.

Care home leaders have urged the government to lift its post-Brexit visa restrictions on low-paid foreign workers to help ease the crisis – having reported a rise in the number of EU workers leaving to return home.

Care England has asked ministers should reduce the qualifying salary level for overseas staff from £25,600 and add care workers to the shortage occupation list. “Quite simply care providers are at breaking point,” said Prof Martin Green, chief executive of Care England in September.

The government has pledged to invest £5.4bn into social care between 2022-23 and 2024-25 as part of reforms to health and social care funding announced in September. This includes a £500m workforce fund, with a further £162.5m fund to help recruit and keep social care staff.

Meanwhile, new research by Carers UK has found that three in 10 unpaid carers across Britain are currently struggling to make ends meet.

Providing unpaid care while struggling with rising living costs is pushing thousands of families across the country into poverty, the charity has warned the government.

More than half (52 per cent) of unpaid carers surveyed by the charity said they feel anxious or stressed about their finances, while 31 per cent are finding it hard to make ends meet, according to the charity’s latest report, The State Of Caring 2021.

A fifth (21 per cent) fear they may not be able to cope financially over the next year. One respondent told the charity: “I don’t have luxuries, can’t afford life, car insurance or house insurance. At 60 I shouldn’t be using food banks.”

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