Home Dementia Cross-party MPs, people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s Society unite to call on Government to address social care workforce crisis  

Cross-party MPs, people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s Society unite to call on Government to address social care workforce crisis  

by Kirsty Kirsty

Survey of nearly 2,000 people affected by dementia reveals less than half felt care staff had a good understanding of dementia and one in four didn’t feel at all involved in the planning of their care 

Alzheimer’s Society, people affected by dementia and a cross-party group of MPs today called on the Government in Parliament to listen to people with dementia and urgently address the social care workforce crisis. 

As social care job vacancies hit a record 165,000, the group urged Government to prioritise the social care workforce, providing better pay, career progression and mandatory dementia training to ensure people with dementia can live the lives they want to.  

With the number of people living with dementia in the UK set to rise to 1.6 million by 2040, from 900,000 today, the pressures on the social care system are set to grow even further.  

Alzheimer’s Society said it was critical to create a workforce now which could deliver the care people with dementia need. Currently people with dementia make up 70% of residents in care homes and 60% of people who access homecare.  

The Workforce Matters report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, chaired by Debbie Abrahams MP and supported by Alzheimer’s Society, calls for a ten-year People Plan to create a social care workforce that is skilled and supported to provide high-quality personalised care for people living with dementia. 

A survey of nearly 2,000 people1 affected by dementia revealed less than half of people affected by dementia felt care staff had a good understanding of dementia and over a quarter of people didn’t feel involved in the care received.  

People interviewed for the report revealed carers lack dementia training and can sometimes struggle to deal with more challenging needs; people with dementia are faced with a revolving door of changeable carers, unable to build meaningful relationships; and family members often aren’t consulted about their loved one’s care and feel a lack of control.  

Kate Lee, CEO at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Providing good social care isn’t just about getting someone up and showered and given their medication. It’s about giving people purpose, dignity and allowing them to have a good quality of life. Sadly, one in four people told us they didn’t feel at all involved in the care they received. My mum has dementia, and I know that personalised care is just so important for her wellbeing.  

“We’re going to need 480,000 more social care staff by 2035 to meet growing demand, but we need to make sure they’re actually supported, respected and incentivised to stay. Hardworking care staff desperately want the skills, time and support to do their job well, but they’re over-stretched and under-resourced. The Government have pledged £500m but this is nowhere near enough given the size of the workforce and the scale of change needed, and we’ve heard nothing about the fundamental issue of pay. The average care worker earns just £9.50 an hour, and shockingly 400,000 care staff earn less than the lowest wage paid by major supermarkets. 

“Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must prioritise social care. We need to see better pay and career progression, mandatory training in dementia and an audit of the current workforce knowledge and skills. A People Plan is the only way to build a better system for people with dementia, their families and hardworking care staff.” 

The call to reform the social care workforce comes after 26,000 Alzheimer’s Society campaigners signed the charity’s open letter to the Prime Minister, due to be handed in shortly, with ambassador Vicky McClure’s heartfelt plea to her social media followers raising signatures by over 8,000. 

The APPG’s report stresses that it’s not just people with dementia and their families in need of change in social care. Ex-care manager Sam Evans used to work for a large care provider but left to run her own business as visit time restrictions meant she couldn’t provide the care she wanted to.  

Sam, 57, from Portsmouth said: “Care workers are on the frontline but don’t get the recognition they deserve. In my old company, getting more time to spend with people we cared for was like drawing blood from a stone. Eventually the company suggested just fifteen-minute visits – barely enough to give someone their medication – and I had had enough. Now the minimum I spend with someone is one to two hours. People need far more than just washing and dressing, they need the chance to explore their passions and hobbies. I took a woman who loved fast cars to visit McLaren recently and the joy she got out of it was worth every second.” 

The calls to Government today follow the White Paper on Adult Social Care, published last year, which set out plans for a new vision for social care centred on personalised care, including £500m to improve training, progression and support for the workforce. Alzheimer’s Society wants to see that vision turned into a reality and is calling for people affected by dementia to be consulted on the proposals as they are developed and delivered.   

The charity has also expressed concern over reports that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is looking to delay the Government’s flagship social care reform which would introduce a cap on care costs, leaving many families vulnerable to high costs.  

Trevor Salomon, 70, from North London, whose wife lives with dementia, said: “My family is lucky that my wife, Yvonne, has received amazing care from dedicated care staff. Her care home is wonderful – they’ve helped her to explore her interests from feeding birds in the garden to baking. But that’s not the case for everyone. If the Government fails to implement its promised social care reforms, including the cap on care costs, then so many more care workers and families affected by dementia will find themselves facing a dire financial situation, only adding to the challenges they face every day. We need a People Plan for social care so that care workers are supported to give everyone the quality care my wife is able to receive.” 

Debbie Abrahams, Labour MP and Chair of the APPG on Dementia, said “Like many other MPs, I have a personal connection to dementia. After years of inaction, the APPG welcomed the Government’s adult social care white paper, but we can’t let these commitments fall by the wayside. The Prime Minister has a duty to reform the social care system, and to ensure people affected by dementia are at the heart of any discussions on this subject. A comprehensive People Plan for social care must be developed, and the workforce must be trained to understand dementia, with time to give meaningful, consistent care. I urge any of my Parliamentary colleagues who are affected by dementia to support the APPG’s workforce recommendations to make sure the 900,000 people living with the condition in the UK are given the personalised care they really need.” 

The full report can be viewed at alzheimers.org.uk/workforcematters. 

Sign Alzheimer’s Society’s open letter to the Prime Minister to urge the Government to prioritise dementia here

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