Politicians must rebuild social care workforce

A new report from Community Care looks at the future of the
social care workforce. It examines flexible working, agency staff
and overseas recruitment, training and education. Its conclusions
are that clearer career structures are needed, more flexible
working, better pay and pensions and that local authorities must
reimburse full costs to private and voluntary sector organisations
to enable them to recruit and train staff.

The report’s author Sue Balloch, professor of health and social
care at Brighton University, says that one of the main driving
forces to the professionalisation of the workforce is the growth in
the service users movement. Users are demanding better standards
and greater reliability and consistency from workers. In order to
support this and the government’s social care reforms Balloch says
that the market in staff must be regulated better with agreed pay
scales and fairer systems for negotiating fees between

The report calls on politicians of all parties to provide
leadership in rebuilding the social care workforce although Balloch
says the chances of this happening are “not much”. Issues about law
and order, immigration and asylum seekers, she says, will dominate
the election, rather than social care, which is central to a “just
and civilised society”.

A survey published with the report found that three-quarters of
the 3,000 social care workers surveyed believe politicians to be
ignorant about social care.

A higher proportion believe social care workers are overlooked
when politicians talk about the “public sector” workforce more

A separate poll of 2,000 members of the public found that more
than one-third believe social care will not exist as a separate
discipline in five years’ time, whoever wins the election.

Nine out of 10 social care workers also agree that media
representation of social care damages morale in the sector and
makes it more difficult to recruit and retain staff.

There is also concern about the effect this has on clients. More
than 70 per cent of social care workers think that the way
politicians and the media talk about social care stigmatises
service users, potentially putting them at risk.

The report was part of a Community Care’s pre-election campaign,
which aimed to raise the profile of social care among politicians.
Three other reports looked at youth justice, older people,
exclusion and education. Published along with the reports were the
results of surveys looking at each issue of social care
professionals and the public.

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