Apr 17

'Are you shocked by your own data?'

Posted: 13 April 2017

Sharon AllenOur CEO Sharon Allen reflects on how our National Minimum Data Set for Social Care can help tackle big issues in our sector.

‘Are you shocked by your own data?’ – a good question posed to me by a journalist asking me to talk about a report produced by the BBC using data from our National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC) showing that 900 people leave their jobs in social care every day.

NMDS-SC is celebrating its 10th year online and with any big data - which is what we have thanks to around 750,000 worker records on the system - we know that context is everything.  So the answer was no, I wasn't shocked, because I'm very familiar with what the data tells us.

I am though very concerned because 900 people leaving their roles every day, leading to the statistic of average turnover across social care in England running at 27.3% (more on averages later) has a massive impact on the quality of care and support our fellow citizens receive.  Social care at its heart is about relationships and it’s difficult to build strong relationships, develop trust and understanding if the person coming to provide the most intimate care is changing all the time.

The context point is important because the data also shows we also have over 1000 people taking up a role in social care every day, which is a net gain of around 100.  Good enough? Nowhere near, because we have 90,000 live vacancies on any given day and know that we need to recruit another 275,000 people by 2025. In addition to the quality impact I've already mentioned this level of turnover, or, more accurately, churn is a huge waste of resource in a sector that simply cannot afford this.

Employers find it challenging to secure information from people about where they are going to when they leave their jobs in social care - although the limited data we do have does not support the commonly stated view that people leave in droves to go and work in a supermarket. Some do, but despite repeated assertions this is not a common route and, in my experience as a former employer, a fair few come back quite quickly too.  We do have robust data on where people join their new employer from as this is much easier to collect and what this tells us is that 67% join from another social care role.  So our issue is more churn than turnover as in people exiting the sector.  This is still a significant challenge we need to address.

And that point about averages? Whilst some employers struggle to retain even 60% of their staff, there are others who have turnover of less than 15%. What we need to understand is what makes colleagues stay with these employers and how can we share this practice so that all employers can learn, emulate and collectively we reduce this churn?  In May, Skills for Care will be publishing a report addressing this question and sharing learning across the sector.

Whilst we wait for this, I encourage all employers to embrace fully values based recruitment, to think about joining the I Care….Ambassador programme, to consider apprenticeships as part of your retention plan and to make use of the range of support available through our Finding and keeping workers toolkit.  And if you have practice you're willing to share about how you have built and retained a great group of colleagues, please send us details that we can share through our Learn from Others micro-site.

The final point in this short blog is to say a huge thank you to all of you who provide data through NMDS-SC giving us data from over 23,000 establishments and 750,000 individual (anonymised) worker records.  This is big data that is used every day to inform policy decisions, to shape Skills for Care’s activity and help individual employing organisations demonstrate their differential.  Thank you as we couldn’t do that without your support.