As many as 90,000 home care workers for the over 65s are needed immediately if the main parties’ manifesto pledges to expand and reform social care are to be met, a think tank has said.
Research by the Nuffield Trust found that there around 165,000 over 65s in England who need help at home with three or more basic activities, like washing and eating, but are not currently receiving it.
The think tank said in a new briefing that expanding social care to this group is implicit in both the Labour party’s pledge for free personal care for over 65s and the Conservative party’s principle to “give every person the dignity and security that they deserve”, despite the lack of concrete proposals in the Tory manifesto.
Researchers took the average number of hours of home care that people currently receive and calculated the number of hours a full time worker would need to deliver care for the 165,000 over 65s not currently receiving care.
This revealed that just providing one hour of care per day to this group would require a minimum of 48,000 home care workers, rising to just under 90,000 home care workers for two hours of care a day.
The Nuffield Trust argues that politicians must urgently put in place plans to expand and retain the care workforce by making “drastic improvements” to pay, working conditions and training opportunities in order to make care work an attractive career.
In addition, the government must ensure that any future migration system does not restrict social care staff from entering the country to work after Brexit, the briefing said.
Natasha Curry, deputy director of Policy at the Nuffield Trust said: “Despite the extremely disappointing lack of concrete proposals to pay for social care in the Conservative manifesto, it is clear that all parties quite rightly wish to expand the current paltry system. Caring for people who are currently struggling with no support will take time, money and – crucially – thousands more home care workers.
“We must be prepared to hire and hold on to much-needed social care workers from home and abroad – and that means being open to so-called ‘low-skilled migration’. Without doing this it will be impossible to expand social care to those who need it.
“Whoever is Prime Minister on 13th December needs to grasp the nettle and put forward clear proposals for funding and staffing social care if thousands of people are not to continue to suffer.”