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In conversation with: NDGAI discusses workforce shortages with Dr Jane Townson

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NDGAI, a new venture that automates workforce scheduling using artificial intelligence, sits down with UKHCA chief executive Dr Jane Townson to discuss workforce shortages in social care and how AI could help improve efficiency and cut costs.

By Katy Chivers of NDGAI

NDGAI took part in the #GladtoCare campaign back in July. We wanted to share our winners’ amazing stories and showcase why these caregivers are glad to care. 

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Their responses are heartwarming and the dedication, enjoyment and overall love of their work was evident with everyone we interviewed. 

Recently, however, there has been growing concern regarding inadequate workforce capacity to meet the ever-increasing demand for carers in the home care sector. 

By speaking to those within the sector, it is very clear that the pressure and stress carers are under is not something that will go away post-pandemic.

Unfortunately, the disparity between demand and supply of home care is worsening, with older and disabled people choosing to live independently at home, needing care workers who can support them.

Does this pose the question… does social care need saving? And if so, how?

recent report by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) warned that almost 75,000 disabled and older people, and carers, are waiting for help with their care and support.

Many employers say they have never experienced such difficulty in staff retention and recruitment and they fear for the well-being and safety of older and disabled people due to workforce shortages.

Earlier this year, the UKHCA conducted a survey with its members to gain feedback on ‘current workforce pressures’. Of those who took part, 91% said that recruitment, post-covid is the hardest it has ever been.

To help us understand the impact shortage of care workers is having within home care, we spoke to Jane Townson, CEO of UKHCA, to share her thoughts on what needs to be done to resolve the problem.

Jane told us: “Firstly, need to recognise care workers, and give them the same sense of ‘belonging’ as we did do for the NHS workers during the Covid pandemic.”

Care workers and care leaders have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, many without adequate rest. Unlike their counterparts in the NHS, there is little meaningful recognition from the government or the public.

UKHCA suggests that a long term policy reform is required; to fund social care adequately so that home care workers are paid fairly for the skilled roles they perform, and at least on a par with equivalent public sector roles.

Jane has shared further ways in which the government can help resolve the workforce crisis in a recent blog post.

We also talked to Jane about her thoughts on the innovation of technologies and support of the development of AI within social care.

She said: “Small changes in efficiency have the potential to make a substantial difference in costs, due to the scale of the home care sector and the volume of hours of home care delivered.”

With the right funding and support, innovative technologies could help address some of the challenges the sector is facing.

NDGAI in partnership with the University of Nottingham, via a government-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership has spent over eight years and £1.5m of investment developing OptifAI, an innovative, game-changing product that utilises ground-breaking AI technologies.

OptifAI is designed to create more efficient schedules, increasing performance and profitability within mobile workforces, such as the home care sector.

Jane said: “Poorly planned rotas can create substantial stress for care workers. If we can implement AI technologies to improve rota planning, this could make a big difference to those working in the sector.”

Artificial intelligence is already making significant changes in health care, and we know that it will soon be on the doorstep for home care. NDGAI is revolutionising mobile workforce efficiencies, and we are ready to ‘press the magic button’.

Tags : Jane TownsonNDGAIworkforce crisisworkforce shortages
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke