Posted: 30 November 2020
Nadra Ahmed OBE has been Chairman of the National Care Association (NCA) since 2001 representing small and medium sized employers. In this blog she looks at the importance of having quality data for her members.
At NCA one of our aims is to support small and medium sized providers to promote and develop the highest standards of care; and in order to do this and succeed we need quality data to make an evidence based case on behalf of our members who represent a broad cross section of providers.
So when Skills for Care publish their annual ‘The State of the adult social care sector and Workforce’ report we found it invaluable to take a close look at the current trends, and what the future might hold for social care employers.
It is important to note that this year there has been a slight drop in the number of vacancies our members have to fill on any given day to 112,000, and whilst that is welcome it doesn’t take away from the fact that they still have to find thousands of new recruits every single day to deliver services to some of the most vulnerable citizens in our communities.
I wish the picture looked a bit rosier long term, but we note in the report that if the care workforce grows proportionally to the projected demographics of people aged 65 and over then we will be looking at 520,000 additional jobs by 2035.
Our members are working tirelessly to find high quality people, especially those new to the job market due to the economic impact of the virus. Individuals who might have the core values to become great care workers. However, knowing the scale of the recruitment – and retention - challenge is helpful when we present our arguments for help to government, to MPs on the Health and Social Care Select Committee or whenever we give evidence.
This report also reveals that about a quarter of the workforce is aged 55 or over. We know we need to succession plan for that group of experienced workers who, potentially may choose to retire over the next decade. What is clear is that we need redouble our efforts to recruit younger and male workers.
Another number which is important to note is Skills for Care’s estimate that our sector contributes circa £41 billion to the English economy. I believe through the pandemic more people have understood the difference social care workers make to people’s lives in our communities, however I believe that the pounds and pence contribution we make is less well known or recognised.
Most of that money is spent locally, either by workers spending their wages in their communities or by our members using local supplies to deliver services. As we know the sector is going to grow which means that social care can support our economy to recover when we come out the other side of the pandemic.
On a more strategic level, the data in this report will help make the argument for a fairer funding model so services are commissioned in a way that means our members can offer terms and conditions which are closer to those offered by colleagues in the NHS. We can’t continue with social care workers undertaking complex and demanding roles, whilst being paid less that people working in hospitality or retail.
One of the pathways to parity of esteem has to be a long overdue pathway to qualifications for the social care workforce. Without that the ability to create a professional register is fraught with barriers. If we can agree the parameters of a qualification which aligns with colleagues undertaking the same or similar roles in the NHS we would be able to also add to seamless pathways to career options open to individuals across both settings. To date we have not fully applied the opportunities in social care for those who may want to come away from NHS roles primarily due to the fact that the terms and conditions do not favour social care, however if we get the professionalisation route right through qualification and registration in place, we may reap the benefits for both health and social care.
The feedback from our members is this is a critical time for our sector as we look to build on public goodwill towards our workforce, who have done so much to keep people safe and well during the pandemic. Whenever the reforms for our sector come NCA will be there representing employers, and this data will a key weapon as we present our arguments at the highest levels.