Developing a greater understanding of social care workers’ professional experiences is key to help better support them, leading industry experts have said.
In health and social care there is a growing understanding of the link between workforce experience and outcomes for patients and people who draw on care and support. The NHS measures experiences of its workforce annually, via the National NHS Staff Survey, coordinated by Picker on behalf of NHS England and NHS Improvement. In social care there is currently no equivalent. Last year the Health and Social Care Committee highlighted 44% of staff in NHS acute and community health organisations reported work related stress but could not offer comparable figures for social care. The report recommended extending the NHS Staff Survey into social care.
Earlier this month, the House of Lords Adult Social Care Committee also called for evidence on what is required to create a fair, resilient and sustainable care system. The committee is focusing on the invisibility of adult social care and its consequences, better support for carers and putting co-production at the centre of care.
Picker recently hosted a round table to explore what is needed to fill the information gap around experiences of the adult social care workforce nationally. Attended by senior figures from organisations including the National Care Association, GMB Trade Union, King’s College London, the Homecare Associations and independent care homes, it concluded the key to supporting social care workers is to build a strong evidence base.
Chris Graham, Chief Executive of Picker, said: “Social care saw its profile increase significantly during the pandemic. The consensus within the social care profession is there is now a need to capitalise on that and highlight the career opportunities and rewards that exist within the profession.
“Equally it is important to learn from the opportunities alongside the challenges of Covid-19 to better understand new ways of working and how policy could support modern approaches to social care. There is more that can be done to improve social care staff retention and morale, by adjusting culture and structure.
“Our roundtable debate reached a consensus that stronger data about the composition and experience of the social care workforce could offer a range of benefits both to people working in the sector and the profession’s profile. Social care is a specialist service and would benefit from a differentiated approach to help understand what is required to support its workforce.”