The adult social care workforce in England could almost double over the next 15 years from 1.75m to 3.1m, a new projection has shown.
The sector would require an additional 900,000 workers, including a five-fold increase in growth of personal assistants, prompting questions about the support available to them.
Under the projections, based on the assumption that personalisation will continue to grow at its current pace, the number of personal assistants would increase from 168,000 in 2010 to 722,000 in 2025. This would be offset by a 16% reduction in the domiciliary care workforce, from 391,000 to 337,000.
The figures were published in Skills for Care’s State of the Adult Social Care Workforce 2010 report, launched this week.
The projections are based on the assumption that everyone who wishes to have publicly-funded social care provided in a “highly personalised way” and to remain in their own homes will do so.
They also take into account major demographic changes, with the number of people aged 85 or more expected to increase from around 1m to 3.2m in 2041.
The potential for massive growth in the personal assistant workforce should reopen the debate about whether more regulation is needed, according to Nick Johnson, chief executive of the Social Care Association.
“With a big workforce of 700,000 people, tax and national insurance will need to be collected. Employers using direct payments – older and disabled people – won’t be able to manage this so what systems will be in place?” he said.
However, Johnson questioned whether the social care transformation programme, launched by the previous Labour government, would continue to be supported under the present government, and suggested more services could be provided by community organisations.
“This is all in the face of spending cuts – where is the money going to come from?”
Johnson pointed to the example of Canada, where “a lot of social care services were taken over by the church”.
The report found that although there were currently 1.75m jobs in adult social care, the actual number of people employed is estimated at 1.6m, as some workers were taking on more than one job.