The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ president has today called for a cross-government initiative to give the wider care workforce the same focus that social work has received through the Social Work Task Force.
In a speech to the National Children and Adult Services Conference, Jenny Owen welcomed the establishment of the Social Work Task Force, which is due to issue its final report next month, but said the “92%” of staff who are not social workers required the same amount of attention.
Care staff and social workers face same issues
She said many of the issues facing social workers identified by the taskforce – recruitment and retention difficulties, lack of client contact time, lack of a strong national voice and leadership, and feeling undervalued – applied equally to social care workers.
“It is not the remit of the Social Work Task Force to address these issues in the workforce. So can we now have a cross-government, cross-sector, high-profile [initiative] for the 92%. I am aware of a lot of good work on a lot of fronts, but it needs the same umph to drive the agenda.”
She said the pay and conditions of the care workforce – “the majority of whom are low paid” – needed to be addressed, alongside their limited access to training.
Adult workforce set to grow
It has been estimated that by 2025, the size of the adult social care workforce will need to rise by between 50% and 80% to meet rising demand for services.
Owen added: “The key question is where are they going to come from – how are we going to get the right people interested in working in social care?”
In a wide-ranging speech, Owen also addressed the debate on the future funding of adult social care, with the consultation on the government’s green paper set to end next month.
Citizens need understanding
She said that after the general election, due next year, citizens needed to be provided with a “real understanding” of what they can expect from the whole health and social care system in the future, backed by cross-party support.
Owen added that this would cover what people would be entitled to should they develop acute conditions, such as cancer, or long-term conditions like dementia, in terms of free care and provision they would have to pay for.
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