Rethink on working patterns urged to ward off staffing crisis in 10 years

A social care workforce prepared to work intense shift patterns
could help solve the sector’s retention problems, the author of a
major new report has suggested.

Andrea Rowe, chief executive of social care workforce development
body Topss England, said the sector needed to learn work practices
which are successful in business and industry, for example two
weeks on, two weeks off.

She said:”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.”

The report, Should I Stay or Should I Go?, warned that the
ageing public sector workforce, where nearly 30 per cent of staff
are in their fifties, will result in severe pressures on service
delivery within 10 years.

It was launched to coincide with Community Care‘s Care in
the Capital campaign 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, which was also unveiled as part
of the Care in the Capital campaign, shows that seven out of 10
Londoners believe the capital is failing to cope with social
issues, including homelessness and drug addiction, and that not
enough resources are being invested.

Launching the campaign, 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

“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.”

Report’s key proposals to retain staff

  • Reduce bureaucracy.
  • Focus on employees and identify skills gaps.
  • Provide support to retrain or re-focus existing staff.
  • More attention to be given to qualifications, training and
    development to help staff progress professionally.

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