The adult social care vacancy rate in England fell by a fifth during the height of the Covid-19 crisis, in part because of falling demand for services, Skills for Care has said.
Between March and June, vacancies were running at 6.6%, down from 8.3% before the coronavirus struck, the workforce development body said in its annual statistical report on the state of the adult social care workforce. This amounts to about 109,000 of the 1.65m roles in the sector as of March of this year.
Skills for Care said that falling demand for services was a contributing factor. A survey of employers it carried out in May found 46% were experiencing a decrease in demand.
This reflects the impact of Covid-19 on a variety of services, with day services closing because of social distancing rules, and reduced home care services and, in particular, care home occupancy rates because of the risk of infection.
Reduced service demand
In its latest analysis of the sector, published earlier in the month, the Care Quality Commission said home care hours were operating at 94% of pre-pandemic levels and were increasing. While local authority-funded care home admissions were at 72% of 2019 levels, things were much worse among the self-funding market – where residents typically pay significantly higher fees than councils – where admissions were running at 35% of 2019 numbers.
It is unclear how far and fast demand will return to pre-Covid levels, amid concerns there will be a lasting impact on occupancy levels in the care home sector.
However, with Skills for Care projecting an increase in the number of sector jobs from 1.65m to 2.17m by 2035 because of the increase in the number of people aged over 65, there are also concerns that there will be insufficient supply of staff because of immigration policy changes.
Earlier this month, the government confirmed plans to replace free movement from the European Union and some other neighbouring countries with a points-based system which excluded all care workers – and most senior care workers – from entering, to near universal condemnation from the social care sector.