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How to solve the care sector’s staff retention problem

Tony Tench, Chief Operations Officer at Housing & Care 21

There are currently 1.58 million adult social care jobs in England and, with an increasingly ageing population, an estimated 700,000 additional jobs will be needed in the sector by 2030 to meet demand according to industry bodies.

The opportunities for job seekers are immense, so why is the care sector currently being hit hard by staff shortages? An estimated 340,000 social care employees leave their job each year, and on any day, there are 90,000 vacancies for these jobs in England alone. Clearly, care providers are failing to provide the conditions carers need to feel truly satisfied in their roles.

The job itself can of course be incredibly tough. Carers work with people who are at their most vulnerable and they can be looking after people at end of life, something which isn’t easy when they form a bond with the person in their care.  However, when you speak to the majority of carers this is not the part of the job they dislike, however hard it may be. Many speak of the satisfaction they get from making a real difference to someone’s life.

For the right people a job in care can be an incredibly rewarding vocation. However, there is no denying that there are circumstances in this sector which lead people to think that leaving is their only option.

So, what’s the real cause behind these statistics? Zero-hour contracts have become sadly all too common among this profession and providers need to ask themselves why, in such a key sector for our population, are zero hours contracts still the norm? From speaking to our own care staff at Housing & Care 21, we know how important guaranteed hours are to the majority of our carers, who need the security to plan for the future, apply for mortgages and feel secure financially. How can we expect high quality care and commitment from staff when they are on zero hours contracts and when they feel they aren’t being justly rewarded for their skills? Carers give so much to their work, both physically and emotionally, and it’s only right that they are compensated fairly.

Of course, zero-hour contracts are only a small part of the issue.  After speaking to our staff, better pay, opportunities for progression and support from management were all cited as things they need to feel valued at work.

At Housing & Care 21, we have listened to staff and taken on this feedback. We’ve introduced a new pay structure which sits at least 10% above the National Living Wage, along with moving care workers onto guaranteed hour contracts for 100% of their normal hours – a sector first. We’re also ensuring that at least 70% of care is provided by permanent care staff with guaranteed hours, and that no more than 30% of care is delivered by a pool of bank staff who have chosen to work flexibly.  We’re also investing heavily in training and inducting care workers by offering diplomas in Health and Social Care.

Working in care is hard, there is no doubt about it, and care providers need to support staff by providing the working conditions that will help them to thrive. Our residents tell us that the quality and continuity of their care is really important to them, so it’s vital that we recruit and retain the best people to make sure we can continue to offer the high-quality care that people deserve. If we want the care sector to thrive, it’s essential that other care providers and commissioners join us in our mission to provide our care staff with the right environment to perform at their very best.

For more information, please visit www.housingandcare21.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

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