A new study will focus on developing a deeper understanding of the drivers of staff retention in social care.
By developing examples of what constitutes good working conditions, the project aims to support the development of a sustainable workforce.
Leading the research, funded by the Health Foundation’s Efficiency Research Programme, the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at the University of Kent will assess the characteristics of people working in the care sector in comparison to other low-wage service industries in order to create more tailored recruitment messages.
The team will also asses what causes the variation in retention rates between low-wage services industries and between social care providers, looking closely at where people go as they leave social care jobs and why.
There are currently 110,000 vacancies in the social care sector and the Care Association Alliance estimates that the industry will need to recruit 128,000 new workers each year, or 1.3 million by 2030, to replace those who retire or leave.
The labour turnover rates average at about 30% per annum in social care, the biggest turnover rate of all job sectors in the UK. This has soared 21% since 2009, according to Skills for Care.
Explaining the research, project lead Shereen Hussein, Professor of Care and Health Policy Evaluation, said: “We really want this work to have meaning for the sector. We plan to work closely with stakeholders, including people receiving care, care home staff and service providers, so that we can understand and provide examples of good working conditions and quality jobs in social care. We know that smaller and not-for-profit organisations have lower turnover. Can we learn something from that?”
PSSRU will run workshops and work with Skills for Care and other organisations, such as Carers UK, Age UK and the National Health Forum to produce recommendations that are useful and sector specific.
“Anybody who looks at social care would recommend increased funding, but we want to see what else we can recommend. In the environment we operate in, there are good examples and we’ll try to understand how these could be replicated. We want our research to have a really practical impact that will make a positive difference to people working in social care and to service users,” said Hussein.