Social care work is far from easy, with jobs that demand a high level of compassion, patience, empathy and dedication. However, for anyone who has experienced working within a good quality care environment, it’s clear how much of a positive impact attentive care can have on residents’ quality of life, as well as the job satisfaction it can create. Why is it, then, that the rate of care worker vacancies is now reaching its highest point in decades?
If the UK’s response to international crises, such as the earthquake in Turkey and Syria, support for Ukrainian refugees and countless other global events are anything to go by, they show that we are a caring, determined nation that is committed to providing help to those in need. If that is the case, why is the care sector now reaching the highest rate of vacancies it has seen in a decade, with 165,000 roles currently unfilled?
According to the latest data from Skills for Care, the number of available care roles has increased annually, with the latest figures showing a 0.3% rise in new jobs created since 2021. However, despite consistent staff turnover rates, vacancies have grown by 55,000 across the same period and are now around 52% higher than in the previous 12 months.
In other words, while the sector is growing – with more positions available – the number of people entering social care is falling. Whilst some churn is still created by staff moving between care providers and into different care roles, an increasing margin is a result of people leaving the sector altogether.
This reveals a systemic challenge that is facing social care: more experienced staff are leaving the sector, at the same time as a lack of new recruits looking to make a career in care.
What are the reasons for increasing care sector vacancies?
Whilst the reasons for higher levels of social care vacancies can vary, there are some key factors that may have led to the growing care recruitment crisis.
- The impact of Covid-19
- The difficulty of the work
- Salary dissatisfaction (the average care worker earns £17,200 – roughly the UK’s minimum wage)
- A reduced number of carers arriving from within the European Economic Area (roughly 7% of the total care force in 2019, as per the UK Government’s Migratory Advisory Committee data).
How can social care providers improve care vacancy rates?
To avoid increasing levels of unfilled social care positions, it’s vital that care home owners, providers and operators reassess their approach to staff and recruitment policies.
This includes making care roles more attractive for a new generation of workers, as well as offering enough incentives to retain experienced and valuable care professionals. Otherwise, the number of care workers will continue to fall, and with it, the ability to provide quality care – both nationally and, on an organisational level, in a way that is commercially sustainable.
If you want to boost staff recruitment and retention in your care home to ensure robust commercials, our team of independent care consultants can help. Please get in touch for a free initial consultation.