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Action required to reverse care work’s poor public image and boost recruitment.


Following on from my article of last week on a strategy to improve the recruitment and retention of staff in adult social care services. The Public Accounts Committee have produced a report urging the Government to take urgent action to address the poor public image of care workers and methods for boosting recruitment and prevention of staff.

According to the Committee the adult social care sector is underfunded, with the care workforce suffering from low pay, low esteem and high turnover of staff. The care sector is in a precarious state but the Department of Health and Social Care (the Department) has not yet said how it intends to put in place a long-term, sustainable funding regime to meet the ever-increasing demand for care. The Department does not know whether the ways that local authority’s commission care, and the prices they pay providers, are contributing to the problems within the care workforce.

The Committee is not convinced that the lack of regulation within the care sector workforce and the balance of regulation versus a market-based approach, is supporting the care sector to provide the best care possible. The UK’s departure from the EU is causing uncertainty over how the workforce will be sustained, particularly in areas that are more reliant on non-UK workers. There is an urgent need to reverse the poor public image that care work has to boost recruitment and retention across the care sector.

The Committee is also concerned that the move to supporting people with substantive and critical care needs only is contributing to growing levels of unmet need for people with moderate care needs. These moderate needs may well grow into substantial or critical needs if support is not given. The Department has committed to addressing all these issues through the health and care workforce strategy that it is currently consulting on, and the promised Green Paper on funding of care for older adults. But given the pressures on the sector, the Committee is concerned that the Department sees the Green Paper as a cure all and underestimates the scale of the challenge. The Department must ensure that its delivery partner, Skills for Care, is properly supported and funded to implement the workforce strategy.

The underfunded Adult social care sector

The adult social care sector is underfunded, with the care workforce suffering from low pay, low esteem and high turnover of staff. The care sector is in a precarious state but the Department of Health and Social Care (the Department) has not yet said how it intends to put in place a long-term, sustainable funding regime to meet the ever-increasing demand for care.

The Department does not know whether the ways that local authorities commission care, and the prices they pay providers, are contributing to the problems within the care workforce.

Brexit causing uncertainty over workforce sustainability

The Committee is not convinced that the lack of regulation within the care sector workforce and the balance of regulation versus a market-based approach, is supporting the care sector to provide the best care possible.

The UK’s departure from the EU is causing uncertainty over how the workforce will be sustained, particularly in areas that are more reliant on non-UK workers.

There is an urgent need to reverse the poor public image that care work has to boost recruitment and retention across the care sector.

Concerns that Department sees Green Paper as “cure all”

There is concern that the move to supporting people with substantive and critical care needs only is contributing to growing levels of unmet need for people with moderate care needs. These moderate needs may well grow into substantial or critical needs if support is not given.

The Department has committed to addressing all these issues through the health and care workforce strategy that it is currently consulting on, and the promised Green Paper on funding of care for older adults.

But given the pressures on the sector, we are concerned that the Department sees the Green Paper as a cure all and underestimates the scale of the challenge.

The Department must ensure that its delivery partner, Skills for Care, is properly supported and funded to implement the workforce strategy.

Summary

The Public Accounts Committee Report is attempting to put pressure on the Department of Health and Social Care (the Department) which has not yet said how it intends to put in place a long-term, sustainable funding regime to meet the ever-increasing demand for care.

The ever-increasing demands for care, the poor public image, difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff are well documented challenges facing the social care industry. The Government are placing a great deal of faith in the forthcoming Green Paper and the health and care workforce strategy, it remains to be seen if they are a cure all and underestimates the scale of the challenge.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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