The Department of Health and Social Care is not doing enough to support a sustainable social care workforce, while the number of people working in care is not meeting the country’s growing care demands. That’s according to the recent report by the National Audit Office (NAO).
According to the report, while many people working in care find it rewarding, there is widespread agreement that workers feel undervalued and there are limited opportunities for career progression, particularly compared with similar roles in health.
In 2016-17, around half of care workers were paid £7.50 per hour or below (the National Living Wage was £7.20 in 2016-17), equivalent to £14,625 annually. This, along with tough working conditions and a poor image, prevents workers from joining and remaining in the sector.
There are around 1.34 million jobs in the adult social care sector in England, across more than 20,300 organisations. The turnover rate of care staff has been increasing since 2012-13 and in 2016-17 reached 27.8%. The vacancy rate in 2016-17 for jobs across social care was 6.6%, which was well above the national average of 2.5%-2.7%.
However, demographic trends suggest that demand for care will continue to increase and people’s cares needs will continue to become more complex. To meet these challenges, the Department estimates that the workforce will need to grow by 2.6% every year until 2035.
And the Care Quality Commission agrees, calling for further talks about how to address these problems.
Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care at the Care Quality Commission, said: “People who use adult social care services, their families and carers, need skilled staff who are valued and properly supported to carry out their critically important roles to deliver great care.
“We share the National Audit Office concerns about the difficulties the sector faces in recruiting and retaining care staff, nurses and managers and see evidence from our inspections of the detrimental impact this can have on the quality of care people receive.
“The NAO report highlights some of the key issues that need to be addressed in the discussion about the future of adult social care as we look forward to the publication of the Government’s Green Paper later this year.”