Social care staff are moving to other sectors for work as they continue to feel undervalued and unsupported, according to Skills for Care.
A board briefing held last month discussed how recruitment and retention of employees remained the most significant issues facing employers across all areas of the sector.
With the rate of UK unemployment continuing to drop, some care workers are leaving the sector to pursue employment in other industries, such as retail and hospitality, the briefing said. Meanwhile, better pay and fewer work pressures were two main reasons behind workers’ decision to look for work in other sectors.
The briefing referenced an example of how providers in Manchester were losing staff because major city projects, such as the development of the local airport, were drawing workers away from the care sector. Due to competition from other industries, providers had been left understaffed with London also affected.
While outstanding CQC results have helped some providers attract better-qualified candidates and achieve lower turnover rates, Skills for Care found that new start-up domiciliary care agencies were struggling to attract job-ready candidates because they were unable to offer high salaries and competitive employment conditions.
Below-inflation pay rises
The briefing pointed out that social care staff have seen their pay rise below the level of inflation whilst average pay is rising above inflation for other sectors.
In addition to low wages and stressful working conditions, “a lack of capacity for staff to complete additional learning” and “restricted time for supervision and appraisal” led to staff feeling “unsupported, undervalued and demotivated”.
Maria Lagos, director of sector development for innovation at Skills for Care said: “Recruitment and retention remains a key issue for employers and we are continually listening to what they are saying across the country to make sure we can support them to meet the ongoing challenges of finding and keeping the right people with the right values.
“Turnover is consistently high across the sector but two thirds of that is people moving to different jobs in social care. We continue to support employers to use our values-based recruitment resources, offer career long learning and development opportunities.
“[The group also uses] our popular Good and Outstanding guide, so when employers find the right people they will be employed in workplaces with positive cultures and career pathways that mean they are much more likely to stay in their roles.”
Earlier this year, the National Audit Office (NAO) confirmed that annual turnover of all care staff reached 27.8% in 2016-17. The study showed that the proportion of vacancies in care reached 6.6%. Despite falling by 0.4% from the previous year, it remained well above the national average of 2.5-2.7%.
“High vacancy rates and turnover can disrupt the continuity and quality of care for service users and also mean providers incur regular recruitment and induction costs,” the NAO report stated.
Amyas Morse, Head of the National Audit Office (NAO), responded to the findings by declaring that care had become a “Cinderella service – without a valued and rewarded workforce.” He added that care providers were unable to fulfil their role in supporting some of society’s most vulnerable people and called upon the Department of Health and Social Care to “give the sector the attention it deserves”.
ADASS previously reacted to concerns about pay levels earlier this year after the NAO report was published. It said that behind the issues with pay was a lack of a long-term funding solution for social care proposed by government.
“The lack of a sustainable funding solution impacts upon the fees which local authorities can pay to providers. This in turn has an effect upon the wages offered to care staff and the availability of learning and development opportunities which are two of the key issues to recruitment and retention.”
ADASS argued: “At a time when much focus is being placed upon creating sustainable health and social care systems, adult social care and its workforce needs to be recognised as an equal partner and with a value in its own right, not just as ancillary to health care,” it added.