Rise in workers entering home care sector, but recruitment challenges remain, finds Skills for Care report

Oonagh Smyth cropped

A shift in demand away from care home jobs towards domiciliary care has been highlighted in a new report from Skills for Care.

The annual ‘State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report reveals that between 2019/20 and 2020/21 jobs (filled posts) in domiciliary care increased by 7.4% (40,000 jobs) to 590,000.

Over the same period, filled posts in care homes remained broadly the same (595,000 jobs).

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But despite an increasing number of people entering the home care sector, providers are still facing major recruitment and retention challenges, the report warns.

Workforce data collected between March and August 2021 shows a 1.8% decrease in filled posts – the first time the number has fallen. This decrease was higher in care homes (-2.2%) than in domiciliary care (-0.8%).

Given the vacancy rate has also risen over the same period, Skills for Care said this points towards recruitment and retention difficulties for the sector rather than a decrease in demand, with employers not being able to find and recruit the staff they need.

On average, 6.8% of roles in adult social care were vacant in 2020/21, which is equivalent to 105,000 vacancies being advertised on an average day. The vacancy rate has been persistently high at above 6% for the previous six years.

Turnover rates across the sector remain high, at 28.5% in 2020/21. This figure had decreased during the pandemic, but since March 2021 many employers report that retention is now more difficult than before the pandemic.

Skills for Care said the report tells a story of a workforce that risks burn-out, with levels of staff sickness doubling over the last year.

The mandatory vaccination policy and new immigration rules have also exacerbated recruitment and retention challenges across the adult social care sector, the report said.

Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said: “This report is a stark reminder that our recruitment challenges continue, and to help tackle that we need to properly reward and value care workers for their high skill levels and dedication. We know that this is a priority for the new Government White Paper expected on adult social care this year and look forward to seeing the measures contained.”

Commenting on the report, Dr Jane Townson, CEO of the Homecare Association said: “It is encouraging to see the increased number of people going into the homecare workforce, but despite this we are still experiencing the worst shortage of homecare workers we can remember. 

“Social care as a whole contributes over £50bn to the economy each year. It’s imperative the Government invests in the workforce as a matter of priority. The Health and Social Care Levy doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. 

“Supporting and investing in homecare helps to enhance wellbeing, increase healthy life expectancy, reduce pressure on the NHS and save money for the health and care system.”

Tags : jobsRecruitmentretentionskills for care
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke