Care in the Capital: New report reveals extent of recruitment crisis in London (with link to full report)

(see below for link to full report)

A long-term workforce planning strategy for social care and
health is urgently needed to stem the severe recruitment crisis in
London, urges a new report, writes Rachel

The report on the recruitment and retention of social care staff
in the capital outlines the severity of the crisis and analyses the
impact it is having in London social services departments on both
workers and services.

Written by Anthony Douglas, executive director of community
services at Havering, the report reveals that some social work
teams in London are running vacancy rates of up to 40 per cent.
Many home care and residential staff are covering for absent
colleagues or unfilled posts at the same time as doing their own

“Personal care jobs which should take 30 minutes are often
crammed into 15 or 20 so that time is gained for the extra work,”
it says. Services are increasingly restricted to individuals and
families on the edge of breakdown.

The report was launched earlier this week as part of ‘Care in
the Capital’ week, an initiative by Community Care, to
focus attention on the recruitment crisis in the capital; share
solutions, and promote social care as a career.

It points out that the crisis is not confined to frontline
staff. Gaps in middle management across London have left many staff
feeling exposed and unsupported. This in turn leads to further
exodus from high pressure jobs.

Filling “new initiative” posts, such as those in Sure Start and
Connexions, is not difficult, but the staff are coming from local
authorities, leaving the frontline deserted. “As a consequence, the
standard of practice in specialist projects is often much higher
than in frontline child protection and children looked after teams,
the very opposite of what was intended when the government
developed ring-fenced or specific grants to improve overall
standards of practice.”

The result is that London boroughs are relying for frontline
workers on staff from agencies “who charge a rapidly rising premium
not far short of institutional extortion”. An increasing number of
social care staff are from overseas on working visas. Care cannot
be consistent as agency staff come and go. “The likelihood is that
a child, or indeed any other vulnerable person, will have a series
of social workers and care providers, all with different approaches
and different opinions,” it says. “Discontinuity of care is often
the norm.”

The report urges an end to the constant reorganisation facing
the public sector in London. Managers are being tied up in
restructuring or making new organisations work. It argues that jobs
in social work and social care need to become more manageable as
too many staff feel their “psychological contract” with their
employer is being breached, and many are working long hours with
varying degrees of enthusiasm and tolerance for what it does to
their lives.

The report concludes that the situation is not universally
desperate, but soon will be as experienced staff are retiring
without being replaced by new recruits. It predicts the adverse
trends will worsen by the need to expand the NHS workforce to
fulfil the government’s pledges, which will impact on care
management and occupational therapy.

Before any national workforce planning tackles the shortages,
services are going to depend on employing more unqualified staff;
more re-employment of retired people; more overseas recruitment as
well as improved co-ordination of recruitment methods across all 33
London boroughs.


Proposed solutions include:

– establish an office for recruitment and retention in health
and social care in London

– develop a coherent approach to recruitment and retention
initiatives in the public sector in London

– commission a fundamental review of health and social care
trends in the next 30 years

– review pay and benefits packages for social care staff

– extend high profile campaigns promoting a positive image of
social work and social care in London

– introduce ‘care’ into the national curriculum

– introduce workforce planning requirements on all social care

– ensure sufficient affordable housing is available for all key
workers in London.

Care in the Capital is supported by Celsian.

Click here
to view full report and print




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