The communications director of Lifeways, one of the UK’s largest providers of supported living, community support and complex care, has proposed introducing a ‘Social Care Living Wage’ to help solve the sector’s retention problem.
Speaking at the recent LaingBuisson Social Care conference, Adam Penwarden said the social care living wage should be “20% higher” than the current National Living Wage of £8.21.
“The Guardian reported that Philip Hammond is planning to put the National Living Wage up to £9.61. There’s competition at the moment over which party can give us the highest minimum wage out there,” he said.
“I think we should absolutely support that and I think we should go further and introduce a National Living Wage for social care, which should be 20% higher than the national living wage because that would reflect the reality of the job, the fact that it’s not unskilled.”
Penwarden added that appreciating the workforce and advertising career progression is key to retaining staff.
“One of the things that we find makes a big difference, in terms of retaining people, is when people have a sense of autonomy, a sense that they are doing something purposeful and that they have some control over their day and the decisions they take,” he explained.
“It’s also about how we communicate what we do, and what we’re not is a gig economy. We want people to come and work for us for the rest of their working lives. We did a straw poll with the 40-plus managers within Lifeways and of those, 35 started out as support workers. There is this amazing career progression, but we don’t talk about it, we don’t advertise it, we don’t sell it to people.”
Caption: Adam Penwarden pictured left with Neil Eastwood, CEO of Sticky People; Bernadette Walsh, COO of Mears Care; and Colin Angel, policy director at the United Kingdom Homecare Association.