The adult social care workforce in England. National Audit Office report

08 February 2018

A new report today considers the Department of Health & Social Care’s role in overseeing the adult social care workforce and assesses whether the size and structure of the care workforce are adequate to meet users’ needs for care now, and in the future, in the face of financial challenges and a competitive labour market.

SCIE's chief executive Tony Hunter says:

You cannot deliver good care without good care workers. Recruiting, supporting and retaining sufficient numbers of skilled staff has been a challenge for many years. SCIE welcomes today's NAO report which shines a stark spotlight on this very real problem for the care sector, central and local government - and the public. As well as tackling problems with pay and conditions for this predominantly female workforce, we also need to look at alternative routes into the care profession

SCIE's work with the JPMorgan Chase Foundation in East London suggests five actions that if taken forward, could improve recruitment and retention:

1. Change the brand and language of social are and support. Terms like 'social care worker' may no longer best describe the complexity of the role and may not be attractive enough to new recruits.

2. Develop and promote portfolio careers. People increasingly have portfolio careers and want to work flexibly. We need to create career opportunities that reflect people's lifestyles and ages (e.g. make working in care an attractive option for those seeking work after brining up families.)

3. Attract care workers from outside the UK. Overseas recruitment, similar to the NHS recruitment of nurses, was seen as necessary to counteract any fall in EU workers should Brexit lead to this.

4. Coordinate local recruitment across health and care. Joint local recruitment campaigns for health and care staff may help to maintain economies of scale and attract people into the sector.

5. Introduce user-led training for carer workers. A new nationally sponsored but locally managed training programme, led and delivered by people who use services, could train potential and new recruits about the values of good, person-centred care.

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