By Caroline Cosh M.D., Clifton Homecare Limited
There has been a sector wide skills shortage in the care industry for a long time. This has been further highlighted during the Covid pandemic, which saw social care workers being hailed as ‘key workers’. However, demand still outweighs the number of skilled workers in the sector – emphasising the wider issues around training, recruitment, and skills, which need to be tackled to future proof our industry.
Recruitment and retention of staff needs to be tackled to secure an industry which is essential not only for the care and support of individuals who rely on it every day, but for the NHS. An unsustainable care sector increases the pressures already placed upon NHS frontline services. As our population continues to live to an older age, the number living with co-morbidities is increasing, meaning our key worker, care teams are caring for individuals with increasing complex needs. Upskilling our teams is essential to meeting individual’s needs, thus supporting the NHS in hospital and community-based teams.
A recent survey by Censuswide found that a huge 81% of employees in the health and social care sectors are interested in upskilling in 2022, more so than last year – which shows that even within our current workforce, the appetite for further training and career development opportunities is there. Upskilling our teams and true recognition for the complex work that care workers do will help to attract recruits with transferable skills from outside the sector too. We need to realise the potential for success through skills investment and encourage all to join the skills revolution that is happening right now.
At Clifton Homecare, we are looking to the next generation, to inspire them to pursue a career in care through training opportunities offered by the government’s ‘Skills for Life’ initiative. To ensure we have the vital skills needed, we are hosting industry placements for eight T Level students from local colleges between 2021-22 and we have nine staff apprenticeships. Industry placements are giving T Level students the opportunity to experience the domiciliary care side of our industry and to see how this differs from residential care settings.
Historically the role of a domiciliary care worker was a home-help role, assisting people with domestic chores and shopping. There is a perception that our roles purely consist of personal caring duties, however, this is far from the case. With the social care industry playing such a significant role in the healthcare system now, continued training is key to the care we provide, such as Senior care development days with external speakers, such as the local falls team, who share their skills and knowledge. All our senior team members also complete training for the NEWS2 system, which is a vital part of our role now, helping us to provide critical information to the NHS by carrying out skilled clinical observations of our clients to ensure their health needs are monitored and met. Hosting industry placements for students gives them an insight into what our day-to-day roles entail – which nowadays are more complex and multifaceted than many realise – and they also have the chance to see the wonderful career possibilities in this diverse sector.
To guarantee the sustainability of our workforce, it is imperative that we start investing time in training now. Social care serves a strong purpose to help those in need and, with the rise in cases of complex health problems, such as dementia, the demand for skilled carers is higher than ever. As such, it has never been more important to encourage and inspire both our existing workforce and new talent to train and gain the new and essential skills which will ensure the care we provide is of the best standard.
We are currently facing a talent crisis in care. Employment schemes including T Levels and apprenticeships, which are designed in conjunction with employers in our sector to offer flexible training and recruitment opportunities, are an ideal solution to both staffing and skills gaps. Not only do these schemes allow employers to unlock new talent, but they can act as a recruitment pipeline and the ultimate extended interview experience for employers. At Clifton Homecare, the T Level industry placements have given us the time to get to know the students, see how they fit within our team and help to shape their approach to caring.
Businesses are urged to join the skills revolution to drive better performance. Visit gov.uk/skills-support to find skills opportunities designed by employers, for employers.