Scottish Health and Social Care Partnerships [HSCPs] are being urged to change “outdated thinking” and look at digital workforce mapping technology to support the care of the region’s most vulnerable citizens.
Workforce specialist Netli said “radical changes” need to be made to the planning and recruitment of social care workers in Scotland to offset “an impending care crisis”.
Stephen Wilson, CEO and co-founder of Netli, said the care sector is not growing fast enough – due to inherent difficulties with recruiting and retaining staff – and it is unable to keep up with the increasing demand for care services caused by an ageing population.
He added: “People are already being denied vital care – but that position is only going to get worse if we don’t change the failed ways of the past and look to digital technology to sort out this workforce problem.”
Netli has provided each HSCP with a proposal offering to support the provision of local care services and is seeking talks with senior officers and department heads to outline the plan in more detail.
The move follows a call for a National Care Service to be formed in Scotland, which also underlined the importance of better workforce planning and development to reduce the impact of ever-worsening recruitment and retention problems.
Netli’s solution involves collating workforce data from care providers and making this available to HSCPs in real-time.
It said this would offer detailed information to help HSCPs with current and future workforce planning, identifying risks and threats within the industry, comparing and benchmarking against regional and national data, and identifying the necessary supports for care providers.
Wilson said: “Our proposal will enable HSCPs to gather and access valuable data which will help them to understand how to better manage the planning, recruitment and retention of social care staff.
“For example if we can monitor what impact Brexit, Covid or a closure of an individual care provider will have, it means you can react and impose a solution before serious damage is done.
“Having continual access to real-time workforce data, combined with the other integrated workforce tools we have devised, will help to attract applicants to the care sector, improve staff retention and mitigate the risk of provider failure, lost revenue and unmet needs.”
Around 206,000 people work in social care in Scotland, but the Scottish Social Services Council predicts the social care workforce must grow by 2.2% each year.
However, the sector has around 14,000 vacancies and growth has stalled at just 1.2%, according to 2018 workforce data from the council.
Wilson added: “The facts speak for themselves: we need to radically improve the way we manage and process recruitment in the social care sector.
“But, crucially, as well as the pandemic shining a new light on the importance of good social care, it has also provided a platform to showcase a career in social care like never before.
“So when the UK opens up post-COVID, social care can be a key sector to support the economic recovery of the nation.”