Care providers losing employees to other industries

Skills for Care says the sector is “under extreme stress” as major cities lose workers to retail and hospitality industries

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.

More from Community Care

3 Responses to Care providers losing employees to other industries

  1. julia April 12, 2018 at 11:20 am #

    Chickens are coming home to roost.
    When you are asked to log in and out rather than trusted to complete the work for an individual and made to race from call to call, sometimes for a 15 minute visit (£2.00) without being paid for the travel time. Having to face the stress from clients who are receiving late calls or calls that mean they are up at past 10am or being supported to go to bed at 6pm, then you will have people who will go elsewhere. When you have to effectively work a 12 hour day with a break in the afternoon that does not allow enough time to do anything meaningful and the actual hours you are being paid for are less than the time you are actually out and about, then again, why would i want to work under these conditions?
    The main barrier to anything improving anytime soon is the fact that potential wages are being syphoned off into the pockets of the agencies, rather than kept in house and paid directly to the workers.
    What is needed for a brave worker to rally support amongst colleagues to join a union.

    • A Man Called Horse April 12, 2018 at 5:21 pm #

      Absolutely correct analysis. Might I recommend setting up as an independent PA working for people with Direct Payments. Your pay would almost certainly be better and you cut out the Agency.

      This is what Local Authorities are supposed to be doing to improve the sector, its called market development.

      The old model of commissioning services from agencies works well for them but not for the people who do the work. Get smart be independent and cut out the agencies who have only profit as the main concern.

      With Austerity set to continue far into the future Local Authorities cannot give better deals to the major contracted agencies and that is why many are withdrawing from the market altogether and concentrating their work on individuals who are self funding their own care.

  2. Ann Murphy April 13, 2018 at 12:26 am #

    When you work as a nurse and don’t get paid for brreaks and more importantly don’t get one! Yet are expected to deliver high standards of care,and fill in endless terms of paperwork, just to please management! . Its no wonder that the private care sector is failing,.