The government review of the social care workforce, Options for Excellence, was published last month and its key themes are promoting continuing professional development, improving recruitment and retention, boosting leadership, management and commissioning skills and adapting the workforce to change.
It states that at present not enough people are being attracted to the social care workforce, “The vacancy rate in the social care sector is double that for all types of industrial, commercial and public employment” and that “local government data shows that, in 2005, the highest vacancy rates in social care were for care staff in children’s homes (15.1%), occupational therapists (13.6%), and care staff in homes for adults with physical disabilities, mental health problems or learning disabilities (12.3%).”
It included a commitment to examine the links between pay and rewards and recruitment, retention and service outcomes, but with the comprehensive spending review due next year, it gave no specific funding commitments.
It called for better supervision and training and the creation of career pathways in social care. It calls for a charter for continuing professional development, which would see CPD further developed and better integrated. In the long-term, inspection processes would examine an organisation’s commitment to CPD.
Service users should also be involved in the training of the social care workforce, it said
Better management and particularly human resources management was needed.
It floats as an option “newly qualified social worker status” to give staff in their first year extra support.
It also mentions remodelling social workers’ role to improve outcomes but is short on detail (it may have been left to the review of social work role being carried out by the General Social Care Council).
One of the areas that might impact on roles is direct payments and other cash for care schemes. It is expected that a new role of care navigator will be developed to help service users through the various options and schemes.
• Options for Excellence