New shift patterns could help solve capital’s staff retention crisis

A social care workforce prepared to work intensive shift
patterns over a few weeks followed by the equivalent time off could
help solve the sector’s current retention problems, the
author of a major new London workforce report has suggested,
writes David Callaghan.

Andrea Rowe, who is chief executive of workforce development
body Topss England, said social care needed to learn work practices
which are successful in other sectors.

“In the oil industry they have extremely successful
conditions of work. They do so many weeks on and so many weeks off,
and that might be a possible solution,” she said.

The report, ‘Should I Stay or Should I Go’, warned
that the ageing public sector workforce, where nearly three in 10
staff are in their 50s, means that service delivery will be badly
hit within a decade. It was launched to coincide with Community
Care’s ‘Care in the Capital’ campaign, which aims
to raise awareness of social work in London, and help spread good
recruitment and retention practice.

Andrew Webster, social services director in Lambeth where
recruitment difficulties are particularly severe, said councils
needed to improve their human resources systems. “Local
government has not invested as much as it should have done,”
he said.

A Community Care survey also unveiled as part of the Care in the
Capital campaign, shows that seven in 10 Londoners believe the
capital is failing to cope with social issues such as homelessness
and drug addiction, and that not enough resources are being

Community Care editor Polly Neate said: “There is a
looming care crisis in the capital – and it is worrying that
the public perceives that social issues such as drug addiction and
homelessness, are not being dealt with in London.

“Many local authorities in the capital are facing
difficulties in retaining social workers, and it is imperative that
innovative solutions and best practice are shared,” she

Main retention recommendations from report:

* Reduce bureaucracy
* Focus on employees, and identify skills gaps
* Provide support to retrain or refocus existing staff
* More attention on qualifications, training and development to
help staff progress professionally

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