Social care sector warns of an impending workforce crisis
A group of influential social care organisations have written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, warning him of an impending workforce crisis and a need to improve the public perception of social care.
In a joint letter sent in mid-June, Anchor, Care England, and United for All Ages urged the Government to demonstrate it values social care and improve the perception of the sector, so as to avoid the predicted shortfall of up to 1.1m care workers by 2037.
Research commissioned by Anchor, care and housing charity for older people, shows that 78% of people say they would not like to begin a career in the adult social care sector, and 71% of parents would not encourage their children to think of it as a career worth pursuing. More than a fifth (22%) of people say the work is not valued by government, while 67% think a career in social care is undervalued by society. Most think people in the UK value nurses, doctors, firefighters, police and celebrities more than someone working in a care home.
Further adding to the workforce crisis is the lack of men working in care and outdated notions around male and female careers. Men make up just 18% of the social care workforce and 85% of men surveyed said they wouldn’t consider a career in the sector. Anchor’s research also found 35% of people think that working in a care home is associated with being a ‘woman’s’ career’.
The social care group letter urges Jeremy Hunt to lead by example to change public perceptions by valuing social care and the indispensable contribution that the workforce makes to society. Recommendations include a public awareness campaign to raise the profile of care, sustainable funding, a commitment to training and progression, and recognition of the essential service provided by the sector’s dedicated workforce.
The letter was sent following the Government’s announcement that the long-awaited social care Green Paper has been delayed until the Autumn.
“We know the hugely positive impact carers have on the lives of the most vulnerable people in society and how rewarding a career in care is,” said Anchor chief executive Jane Ashcroft.
“That is why 83% of our colleagues say their jobs offer personal fulfilment. But the perception of social care among the Government and the public is shockingly low and must change if we are to avoid a shortfall in the carers needed to provide today’s older people and future generations with the care they need and deserve.”
Jarred Stansfield, a 21-year-old care assistant at Anchor’s Heathside care home, said working in a care home was an incredibly fulfilling and important job, yet it was not valued by wider society.
“Carers often feel let down by the actions of successive governments,” said Jarred.
“The Government must help change the perception of the care sector and encourage more people, especially men, to think about a rewarding career in care. The fact that so many young men disregard the opportunities a job in care can offer means they are missing out on a potentially great career.”