Last month the Skills for Care: Workforce Intelligence Group published its report on “The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England”
A summary of some of the highlights of this report is contained in the infographic below.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director, Age UK in their recent Blog about this report shares many of my concerns.
About 130,000 new workers are needed each year just to keep the number of care workers in balance with the number of workers we need already. This figure though masks an even bigger problem that faces us in the future. The numbers of over 65’s in England will increase by 2035 from the current 10 million to around 14.5 million people (about 44%). If the balance between the numbers of older and disabled people remains the same then around 650,000 extra recruits will be needed in adult social care by 2035.
The situation in Scotland is very similar. In March 2018 Scottish Care released a report into the situation in Scotland called The 4 R’s Report it highlighted that the care sector in Scotland is also experiencing a severe recruitment and retention crisis. Care homes employ almost 5,000 nurses (approximately 10% of the total nursing workforce in Scotland) but data included in Scottish Care’s Independent Sector Nursing Data report suggested that there is a care home nurse vacancy level of 31% – up from 28% in 2016.
Approximately 6% of the care home workforce originate from the European Union and a further 6% from other countries. In relation to nurses, this EU figure increases to nearly 8%. Although not directly comparable the English report gives a real figure for their sector pointing out that 104,000 jobs are filled by people with an EU nationality.
As we stumble towards a Brexit cliff, our departure from the EU is bound to have a significant impact on the care home sector labour market and area of the economy that we are already struggling to recruit to. So its time for action. Care workers play an absolutely vital role in the lives of many older and disabled people and we know we haven’t got enough of them to meet demand even now.
It’s not too late for the UK Government to look again at how care workers from the EU should be treated now and after Brexit. There are many good reasons to reject the notion that Adult Social care is a low skilled job that merits only low pay. Providing care to people in our communities is an essential occupation, on which increasing numbers of older people and disabled people depend.
Age UK has just written to the Home Secretary to urge the Government to exempt care workers from the rules around so-called low skilled workers from the EU post-Brexit. Let’s hope the government are listening, although there is no sign yet… See Business leaders warn of Brexit impact on social care following policy announcement