High staff turnover among the home care workforce is likely to continue through to a post-pandemic world, despite a short-term increase in job applicants, a new report has warned.
The report, Retaining Homecare Workers in the Independent and Voluntary Sector’, was published by Talent for Care in partnership with United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA).
It warned that already exhausted staff need more support than ever to recover from the pandemic, while newcomers need a highly positive initial experience to encourage them to remain in the care sector.
But staff and management are facing increased pressure due to high staff turnover, leading to low staff morale and rising recruitment costs.
And there is a danger of a “negative spiral”, the report warned, with excessive pressure from staff vacancies becoming a major cause of turnover.
The findings of retention survey, conducted in December 2019 on 234 home care providers, are expected to inform current and future, post-pandemic, workforce plans.
It showed that staff retention was a major challenge for the majority of respondents, with two thirds experiencing staff turnover in excess of 15%, increasing to over 25% for a third of the sample.
The trend is equally concerning for the 38% of providers for whom staff turnover has increased or significantly increased in the last three years, to December 2019.
Among the most relevant causes of staff turnover, impact on personal life and unacceptable working patterns, such as gaps in rotas, ranked higher than dissatisfaction with pay or overall compensation.
Meanwhile, inability to manage anxiety and stress, lack of personal resilience, motivation and poor communication skills were the main personal factors impacting care worker retention among the survey sample.
What works for improving retention?
According to respondents, flexible working hours (80%) and regular feedback from line managers (79%) appeared to be more effective than increasing pay (69%).
The desire for innovation to improve retention was confirmed by 57% of respondents, while 59% were planning to increase the use of technology to make life easier for staff.
Meanwhile, better funding, improving the perception of home care as a career and closer integration with healthcare are the top sector-wide initiatives advocated by the respondents, to improve staff retention.
Summarising the report, Talent for Care said retention is likely to remain a major challenge for the coming months, through to a post-COVID world, and innovation – from organisational improvements, to investment in personal development of care staff and increased use of technology – will be required to tackle care worker turnover and drive workforce sustainability.