Sep 16

The social care sector is bigger than you think

Posted: 26 September 2016

LeeStriblingthumbLee Stribling - Project Manager, NMDS-SC implementation

I’m often asked by friends when they see something social care related on the news - ‘is this really factual?’

Have you ever wondered where the media go to find information about the social care sector when they run articles, or how you can find information about the sector’s workforce?  Skills for Care’s NMDS-SC gives an accurate picture of the social care workforce based on data gathered from hundreds of thousands of worker records.

That rich seam of data helps us provide key sector reports, and we produce regular briefings, usually around key themes such as pay or recruitment and retention, or with a focus on a sector of the workforce, for example registered nurses.

So, what do we know about the size and structure of the adult social care sector, and where do we get this information?  In our recent report, NMDS-SC is the main data source and we also use data from the local authority adult workforce data return, NHS Digital, ONS and annual Skills for Care workforce surveys. 

We estimate the number of adult social care jobs in England as at 2015 was 1.55 million, that’s an increase of 240,000 jobs since 2009 and around three quarters (78%) of jobs in adult social care were with independent employers.  Around 1.43 million people do these jobs across social care; as a comparison, the NHS employs an estimated 1.2 million people in England according to NHS Choices

There’s been a shift in the type of services being provided too. The majority of social care organisations were providing non-residential services (59%) and 41% provide residential services. The number of non-residential services (such as domiciliary care) has increased substantially since 2009, with a decrease in the number of residential services. 

Why the shift?  We think it may be related to government policy of promoting independence for people who have care and support needs. For example, the increase in non-residential care establishments may be a result of the flexibility offered by personal budgets with more people choosing care options that support them to continue to live at home.  Around 65,000 direct payment recipients employ their own staff with approximately 235,000 adults, older people and carers receiving direct payments from councils’ social service departments.

Given the size of the social care workforce, and the continual need for additional staff, it’s in all our interests to promote social care as a rewarding career option, with a host of different jobs available. The sector is responsive to change; there are new opportunities to reflect the need for different types of service, and the rapid growth in technology.

Finally, the social care sector is bigger than you may think with more employed in our sector than the NHS, and contributing a total economic value of around £40 billion to the English economy.