A senior industry consultant has laid out a plan of action for improving the future prospects of care staff amid dwindling resources and a recruitment crisis in the sector.
Liz Zacharias of Campbell Tickell, a management consultancy for care providers, shared her ideas in response to a recent report by Skills for Care, which found that the adult social care sector will need to fill another 580,000 job roles by 2035 to keep up with the growing number of over 65s.
She said the main barriers to recruitment are reduced finances and the prevalence of low pay and an uncertain career path, with a general treatment of care work as a low-status occupation.
These issues have been compounded by reduced migration since the referendum and the proposed £30,000 minimum threshold for future migrant salaries, she said.
In order to resolve these challenges, Zacharias said the adult social care sector firstly needs a “really good campaign” that focusses on how important care work is to the UK, and how skilled people need to be to work in the care sector.
Secondly, the sector needs a structured career path, she said, with clear competency-based recruitment, skills and aptitude development, as well as leadership development.
“This would be valuable for many occupations, but for care it would be great if people were rewarded and recognised for being good care workers and continuing as care workers – rather than the upward trajectory being a step up to management, where in reality a different skill set is needed,” Zacharias said.
Finally, the adult social care sector needs a revised pay structure, Zacharias urged, underpinned by a “proper once and for all” funding settlement.
“I believe that we need a training pathway, pay structure and career path that puts care work on a par with nursing and social work or housing officers,” she explained.
“The approach to the funding of care should recognise that we will all need an empathetic and skilled care worker to look after us when we are at our most vulnerable.
“An approach that respects the profession of care worker, combined with a reward structure that is appropriate to the importance of the role in a civilised nation would help guarantee that when it’s our turn to be cared for, there will be a skilled, positive and confident workforce ready and waiting to help.”