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Social care reform and what it means for our workforce

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Care and support, coronavirus, Leadership, Workforce
Man in wheelchair in a care home
"Our wonderfully resilient care colleagues have... borne the strains, stresses and sacrifices of the last 18 months with incredible fortitude." [Image supplied by]

The biggest challenge

Solving the crisis of provision, affordability and sustainability in the social care sector was always going to be a complex, contentious and evolving challenge. Adding a global pandemic to the equation has made that task even more daunting.

It is one thing to establish a new funding model and - whatever you feel about the recently announced Health and Social Care Levy - it’s quite another to make sure you have the colleagues, providers and services in place to deliver great care.

Our wonderfully resilient care colleagues have been doing that already of course. They have borne the strains, stresses and sacrifices of the last 18 months with incredible fortitude, but this level of service is not sustainable and must be met with enhanced professional support.

As part of the record 36 billion investment to reform the NHS and social care, the Prime Minister’s announcement of at least £500m funding for the care workforce across three years is, therefore, very welcome. It will help us develop new qualifications, career progression pathways and robust mental health support for thousands of care staff across England. It represents a five-fold increase in public spending on the skills and training of care workers and registered managers.

Training session
Hundreds of thousands of training places and certifications for care workers... will spur efforts to level up CPD in line with NHS nurses and therapists. [Image supplied by]

Enhanced training

I am also heartened by the Government’s commitment to provide additional support for the continuous professional development (CPD) of the workforce, including hundreds of thousands of training places and certifications for care workers. This will spur efforts to level up CPD in line with NHS nurses and therapists and promote enhanced knowledge and skills across the piece.

The PM’s announcement mean we can also raise our game in providing pastoral support for staff, who continue to perform extraordinary roles helping the country emerge from the privations of this pandemic.

Boosted mental health resources and access to occupational health services will help sustain good health in mind and body. Counselling, peer-to-peer coaching and workplace improvements are just some of the provisions we hope to see rolled out across the sector. In particular, I’m keen to see care providers respond more positively and flexibly to care staff’s travel and domestic needs. An understanding, adaptable and empathic employer is such a morale booster.

Care worker working with physically disabled young man
Government has put in a place a range of measures to help providers recruit and retain staff. This includes the national recruitment campaign, Every Day is Different.

Grasp the opportunity

It may sound counter-intuitive, given the strange and pressured times we’ve all lived through, but I believe there has never been a better moment to pursue careers in social care. We just need to get much better at showcasing all the career opportunities available at a local and national level and celebrate the successful and rewarding careers many people have had and continue to enjoy.

Local authorities have a vital role to play in supporting recruitment and retention. I am keen to see them supporting local providers to recruit colleagues by proactively identifying workforce shortages, developing workforce plans, and encouraging integrated working across services. If we can draw one positive from the pandemic, it is our enhanced ability to collaborate.

Centrally, Government has put in a place a range of measures to help providers recruit and retain staff. This includes the national recruitment campaign, Every Day is Different, the latest phase of which ran from February to April 2021and which is due another push soon.

So, big changes are coming, but they won’t happen overnight. They also won’t happen without input from the people who understand our profession the best – our care colleagues. We need their hopes, concerns and wise counsel to inform the White Paper on social care reform coming later this year, to help make sure all proposals are truly fit for purpose.

I believe we all are at the beginning of an exciting, empowering and transformative journey, one which will take our amazing profession to new heights of excellence and job satisfaction, and deliver happier, healthier communities. I hope many more of you will join us and help create a social care system fit for the 21st Century and beyond.

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  1. Comment by Ruth Pownall posted on

    It still misses the point.
    There should have been consultation with those out there in Social Care trying to keep all of this together before this announcement.

  2. Comment by angela bonney posted on

    I hope that all carers will now truly get the recognition for all their hard work not just through the pandemic but before during and continuing.
    for too long its been regarded as a job for those that are not academic and not been regarded as a career.
    The pandemic highlighted what we as carers regardless of title have known for years that we play a very vital role in health and social care without us the wheels dont turn as smoothly.
    We need to be recognised as professionals and the salary too match it.
    Carers work unsociable hours 365 days a year and some give so much more than the hours they get paid for the love of their jobs and the bonds they build.
    NVQ for all staff to feel valued and respected.
    The country clapped for us all now is the time to back up the clap and give us the recognotion we deserve.

  3. Comment by Louise Morse posted on

    As well as new qualifications, career progression pathways and robust mental health support for thousands of care staff across England' I hope that the Agencies set up to do this will leave enough money for care providers to pay care workers the wages they deserve.

  4. Comment by Deborah Harrison posted on

    How do we offer our assistance?

    We have years of experience of upskilling this workforce and assisting over 60 councils realise all the benefits across health and social care.

    Deborah Harrison

  5. Comment by Steven Jamieson posted on

    One of the biggest things in health care is how people are handled physically. If we're going to invest in people, and help the more vulnerable then we need to invest heavily and be more involved on the moving and handling aspects of things. More on training , more on what's needed in respect of managing Thier mobility needs addressing what equipment is needed

  6. Comment by Paul Dunn-Sims posted on

    The problem is Deborah, that there is no evidence among homecare workers that training and CPD are priority issues for them and none that people who currently chose not to work in care do so because of the lack of CPD. The recent national recruitment campaign was hopelessly ill informed. As soon as we told candidates that we work all day 365 days a year they replied that for our rates of pay they'd rather stay in a 9-5, 5 days a week job. There remains an uniformed belief (mainly in the NHS) that every care worker wants a pathway to becoming a nurse. They don't! They want decent pay to do the job they do. They don't aspire to handing out medication, they really enjoy caring for people in their homes.

    They (and their employers) want an end to zero hours contracts that are the only employment solution to the ridiculous rates that Local Authorities will pay for care. They deserve an end to the expectation that they will be paid at NMW. They need a registration scheme in England that reflects that their job cannot be done well by 'anyone' and they need an end to commissioners that buy on lowest price with no value on quality. Sadly, funding for CPD doesn't scratch the surface of the urgent emergency level needs facing social care in recruitment of staff that can deliver care to people in need.

  7. Comment by J Briggs posted on

    All sounds great in theory but the sector has a staffing crisis now and needs urgent support to get through this period. Mandatory vaccinations has put further pressure on a sector where recruitment & retention was already failing prior to the pandemic.
    Care providers only have so much money in the pot to pay staff, so even with the reforms re payment of care fees and stream lining these fess, if fees are not increased to manage the needs of the staff population in social care homes will no longer be financially viable leaving even bigger gaps in the sector and blocking NHS discharges.