Dimensions, the UK’s largest not-for-profit support provider for working-age adults with learning disabilities and/or autism, has announced a new workforce manifesto to call on government to alleviate the recruitment and retention crisis in adult social care.
The manifesto details the five key points that the Government must implement urgently to help resolve the crisis that currently places an unbearable burden on both the health and social care sectors. In the first three months of 2022, 170,000 hours of home care per week could not be delivered due to staff shortages, a sevenfold increase on the same period last year.
At the same time, demand for services is increasing unabated. More than half a million people are now waiting for an adult social care assessment, while the social care sector faces having to employ double its current share of the working-age population to fulfil demand by 2033. Without urgent action, the staffing situation is only going to get worse, with devastating consequences for those who rely on support.
Dimensions therefore calls on the Government to:
- Benchmark minimum support worker pay at NHS Band 3
- Establish a Skills Framework
- Prepare people for work
- Target integrated health and care
- Undertake an annual workforce plan for social care
Benchmarking pay at NHS Band 3 means paying support workers a minimum of £10.40 per hour with higher rates paid according to the complexity of a person’s individual support needs. This will ensure not only that support workers earn a wage commensurate with their skills and responsibilities, but also that they receive parity of esteem and pay with their NHS counterparts.
Establishing a Care & Support Work Skills Framework, as envisaged in existing plans and perhaps administered by Skills for Care, will underline the skilled nature of support work and lessen the need for retraining when a support worker is TUPE transferred to another one of the 23,000 social care providers in the country. It will also facilitate proper leadership training which, alongside pay in proportion to responsibility, will provide the sector with the strong local leadership that is critical for providing good support.
Preparing people for work applies to the quarter of working-age adults in the UK who are not currently in work. Through apprenticeships, work readiness programmes, and supporting more people with disabilities into employment – 21% of all working age adults are now classed as disabled – the sector can recruit from a new potential workforce more effectively than any Government-led recruitment advertising campaign.
Achieving truly integrated health and care will result in a national workforce of highly trained colleagues who can support people with complex health needs out of hospital
ity more quickly. This will lead to less bed-blocking, fewer cases of burnout among staff, and better person-centred support for those who need it.
An annual workforce plan for adult social care will help ensure that the condition of the health and social care workforce remains sustainable for the long term. Having committed to overhauling workforce funding and training as per the previous four points, the Government must embrace formal workforce planning as a constructive tool to sustain this progress.
Dimensions’ workforce manifesto comes as the recruitment and retention crisis continues to place an unbearable burden on adult social care. Latest figures from Skills for Care indicate that the sector has 105,000 vacancies, with an average vacancy rate of 6.8% across England, although in some regions it is as high as 8.9%.
In addition, the average turnover rate is 28.5%, with 410,000 people leaving adult social care roles in the last year. Dimensions’ proposals are therefore designed to support the sector in retaining high-quality staff as well as recruiting them in the first place.
Dimensions workforce manifesto is available in full here.
Rachael Dodgson, Chief Executive of Dimensions, said: “Every day thousands of support workers help people to gain choice, control, and agency over their life. They undertake complex delegated nursing tasks, tackle the causes of distressed behaviour, and support employment. They are skilled, professional workers.
“Yet many of them are going to leave the sector, not because they don’t love their job but because they have their own families to think about. Few people are in a position to stay in one job when there are better paid alternatives available. As a result, organisations across adult social care are struggling to recruit and retain high-quality staff.
“We hope that this five-point plan provides the Government with a simple blueprint for resolving the staffing crisis and delivering measurable, accountable improvements in the quality and quantity of adult social care in this country. This is a goal towards which every provider strives, and we have collectively urged the Government for some time to do more to meet this aim. For the sake of those who rely on the sector, we simply cannot delay any longer.”