King’s Fund points to crisis

Care and support services for older and disabled people need
more money and urgent improvements if they are to avoid the
recruitment and retention crisis facing the NHS, the King’s Fund
said this week.

A report of a 10-month inquiry warns that care and support
services face collapse without an injection of £700

Unless the government matches social services funding to NHS
funding, its capacity to deliver the modernisation agenda will be
seriously compromised, it claims. “Without such investment, care
and support services will be struggling to stand still. They will
be unable to address the major improvements needed in quality or to
meet the additional requirements of new national standards.”

The inquiry report focused on the quality of physical, practical
and emotional support to adults needing help because of frailty in
old age, mental health problems, physical disability, chronic
illness or learning difficulties.

It shows that the estimated one million care and support workers
are poorly paid, not trained sufficiently, have too little time to
care, and are inadequately supported by managers.

Two-thirds of the workforce did not hold a relevant
qualification and the average wage was about £5 per hour. The
inquiry made 15 recommendations, including the need for an urgent
review of the shortcomings of care National Vocational
Qualifications. “The attainment of a care NVQ has to be something
that is seen as a sound and reliable indicator of a competent

It recommends that the General Social Care Council should revise
its timetable for registering care workers so that it does not just
rely on qualifications. There should be an interim register to
include all unqualified social care workers employed by local
authorities and the independent sector, with target dates for their
full registration on the basis of qualification.

The quality of care and support services fell far short of what
users and carers should be able to expect. Staff turnover was high,
and is likely to get worse as the workforce ages and there is
increasing competition in the labour market. Meanwhile, there is
inadequate training for care and support workers before qualifying
and during their careers.

King’s Fund chief executive Julia Neuberger said: “The
government should make a concerted effort to recruit, retain and
equip thousands of committed and able people to work in care and
support services.”

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