Providers must demonstrate clear career pathways in social care in order to attract people to the sector, leaders in care have said.
The call came from provider CEOs and representative bodies during a panel session at the Future of Care Conference at The King’s Fund in London on Tuesday.
Nicki Bones, CEO of SweetTree Home Care Services said: “We have to give people the vision of a career pathway. I quite often use my own story – I started life as a carer at the age of 16, did my nurse training and now I’m CEO. Within our training academy, we use that story to try to support people to have that vision.
“We really do have to give people a mentor that shows them how they can visualise that career because so many care staff can’t visualise how on earth they can get from A to B.”
Amanda Scott, CEO of Forest Healthcare agreed, adding that providers should be collaborating with the education sector to point young people to towards social care.
“We have just opened up the Kickstart apprenticeship programme. What I decided to do, based on my own nurse training, was to use that for a rotation through the care home, so rather than bringing someone in and immediately directing them towards care, they will spend some time with the maintenance team, the food preparation team and activities, and help these young apprentices to start seeing the whole life of a care home, and I’m really excited about that.
“Providers all believe in connecting with our communities, but I think we probably need to do so with more purpose. So our managers have spent time in primary schools, talking to people what we do, and then also in secondary schools and colleges to really be ambassadors of care.”
Scott has also lobbied for there to be a gerontology branch for nurse training.
She explained: “It is a specialism and I think we should be pointing people towards social care, rather than scooping them up after they have had a negative experience elsewhere. It should be the pathway of choice, rather than the default.”
Hallmark Care Homes has also been working with young people to point them towards social care.
Chair Avnish Goyal said: “What we did just before the lockdown was bring secondary school children into care homes for workshops. We saw a huge amount of excitement from the students who never really knew what social care was and they were talking about careers in social care. Once we are out of the pandemic we will resurrect that and go into schools to really promote social care.”
In a separate talk at the Future of Care Conference, Professor Martin Green, CEO of Care England, argued that the government’s social care recruitment campaign didn’t go far enough in promoting careers and the diversity of roles in social care.
He said: “We need to start talking about careers in social care. I want clear skills and competencies frameworks which are aligned to portable qualifications. I was really pleased that the DHSC did their workforce advertising campaign, but what it didn’t do is give us a hint that you can have a brilliant career in social care or an understanding of the diversity of roles.
“I do think we need to think about how we attract people into our sector and really show people that it is one of the few sectors where you can have a career for life.”