Collaboration between boroughs seen as key to recruitment crisis

towards collaboration between London boroughs to tackle the social care
recruitment crisis were set in motion at a major symposium last week.

Hosted by Community Care as part of
its Care in the Capital Week initiative, which focused attention on the
shortage of social care workers in London, the event brought together leading
figures from a wide range of social care agencies.

Participants agreed that collaboration
between the 33 London boroughs and with the NHS workforce development confederations
was key to tackling the recruitment crisis.

David Behan, senior vice-president of the
Association of Directors of Social Services, said that if councils collaborated
more and competed less, the situation would improve.

Anthony Douglas, executive director of
community services at Havering Council and author of a major report on the
recruitment and retention of social care workers in London released to launch
Care in the Capital (news, page 6, 20 June), argued for a co-ordinated approach
with the NHS.

"The London boroughs, through the
Association of London Government and the Social Services Inspectorate, need to
introduce some funding into recruitment and retention work," said Douglas.
He suggested that £5,000-£10,000 from each London borough would begin to
produce an overall budget.

Alison de Metz, who leads on social care
issues in London for the Soccial Services Inspectorate, said any strategy to
tackle social care recruitment and retention needed to focus on partnership
with the NHS. Janice Robinson, director of health and social care at the King’s
Fund, argued that social care leaders needed to show the NHS workforce
development confederations – which conduct workforce planning for the health
service – "the win-win of collaboration" with social care.

Robinson added that the pay issue had to be
tackled. She suggested examining ways of recruiting and retaining older

Symposium participants said good staff were
lost when they reached the retirement age of 65. Behan outlined how home care
workers were retiring from local authorities, but wanted to continue working so
they joined agencies that then sent them back to work for their old employer.

Trish Stratford, managing director of the
Celsian recruitment agency, argued that the whole of the public sector had to
be made more appealing. "If you are going to retain these people in social
work, you have got to allow them to practise in the area that they trained in
and take away some of the bureaucracy," she said.

The symposium heard how retaining staff was
as much of a problem as recruiting them. Behan outlined how social workers were
moving between boroughs and in and out of the voluntary sector. In response, de
Metz proposed honorary contract arrangements between boroughs to allow staff to
move to other jobs in neighbouring councils and return without their authority
incurring any cost.

– Care in the Capital Week is supported by

introduces pay differentials

social services department is widening the pay difference between social
workers in children and family services and those working with adults.

move is part of a £3.5m package announced by the council to recruit and retain
staff by making them among the best paid in the country. Newly qualified social
workers in the children and family service will receive a £2,000 rise and team
leaders will receive £4,000 extra.

widening pay difference means that newly qualified staff working with children
will earn £1,000 more than those working with adults and older people.

difference will increase to more than £3,000 for those with two years’
post-qualification experience and £5,000 for practice managers.

is also reintroducing the "senior practitioner" grade to encourage
experienced staff to continue in practice rather than moving into management.

in recruiting and retaining staff were identified by the Social Services
Inspectorate as partially to blame for past failures in social services. The
situation had worsened because of the fallout from the Victoria Climbie

council spokesperson said: "We are very aware that there could be
resentment from staff in adult services and we will be working to see what we
can offer those staff. Pay is just part of a package, which includes guaranteed
study leave."

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