Adult social care leaders have come together for the first time to offer a collective vision of what should be in a workforce strategy for the growing sector.
The leaders of Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), Care Provider Alliance (CPA), Care and Support Alliance (CSA), Local Government Association (LGA), Skills for Care, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and Think Local Act Personal (TLAP) represent people who draw down on care and support services, employers, workers, inspectors and commissioners.
They argue a strategy for the 1.5 million strong workforce must be driven by a shared vision. As Social Care Future put it ‘we all want to live in the place we call home with the people and things that we love, in communities where we look out for one another, doing the things that matter to us.’
To build and develop a workforce which makes this vision a reality the leaders say there are clear prioritieswhich must be included in a national workforce strategy/people plan for adult social care:
Staff recognition, value and reward
Investment in training, qualification and support
Career pathways and development
Building and enhancing social justice, equality, diversity and inclusion in the workforce
Effective workforce planning across the whole social care workforce
Expansion of the workforce in roles which are designed in coproduction with people who draw on care and support, and in roles which enable prevention, support the growth of innovative models of support
These priorities have been developed based on leaders in adult social care shared understanding of the key workforce challenges which they say must be addressed as a matter of urgency. They will continue to talk with people who draw on social care and work with the sector to further understand the role we will all need to play to make our ambitions for change a reality.
The leaders agree these priorities have to be a key part of the proposed reform agenda that will need to consider what part social care should play in our society in the coming years, and what role a workforce that is likely to be around 2 million strong by 2035 should play to meet current and future demand.
Clenton Farquharson, MBE, Chair of Think Local Act Personal said:
Think Local Act Personal welcomes this forward-looking statement which has been influenced by people who draw on social care. Whilst recognising the steps that need to be taken to secure today’s workforce, its ambition for a workforce fully capable of delivering a reformed social care is a welcome and positive step forward. Using TLAP’s Making it Real approach will help ensure that people are supported to have good lives, with the care and support of the future adult social care workforce.
Kathy Roberts, Chair, Care Provider Alliance says:
The Care Provider Alliance is continuing to work with policymakers in central and local government and the wider sector to tackle the structural and financial problems that our sector faces in terms of workforce planning. We believe that this sector-led plan, published today, articulates what we need now to ensure a consistent and fair approach to workforce planning across all care and support services.
As the COVID pandemic has clearly highlighted, we must encourage our health and care workforce to continue to collaborate and deliver together. No one should get left behind. As a sector with over 1.5 million staff, we are a major employer as well as an essential service. We are calling on all parties including central and local policymakers, commissioners, educators and regulators to work with us to develop and deliver a long-term workforce strategy that will support our staff, and ultimately the people who draw on our services and their families.
Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
Any long-term solution for adult social care needs to include a comprehensive plan on building a care workforce fit for the future. It is vital that we are able to match the skills and ambitions of our future workforce with the aspirations of people who have cause to draw on care and support. Urgent action is also needed to address the current recruitment and retention crisis in social care, including on pay, conditions, professionalisation, skills and training.
Kathryn Smith, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence, says:
Our workforce has been pushed into the headlights by Covid-19. This strategy highlights several challenges, all of which we know existed before the pandemic. And there are opportunities here, for instance the chance for better innovation; and through the changes brought by Integrated Care Systems. So it’s time to grasp the nettle and, as many of us said in our recent letter to Ministers, demand a new deal for the care workforce.
Angela Buxton, Executive Director of People at the learning disability charity Mencap, said:
Care workers have made huge sacrifices during the pandemic, risking their lives to keep the people we love safe and well. Care work is highly-skilled, with hard-working carers carrying out duties like administrating medication, following complex care plans and, in some cases, saving lives. They deserve better pay, better training opportunities and better career progression. Unless the Government acts now, we will see more dedicated carers leave the profession, and older and disabled people and their carers left without the support they need. This important workforce strategy sets out how the Government can reform social care and its workforce so that it is fit for the 21st century. Care workers are the foundation of a high-quality social care system. The Government’s reforms must include a workforce review and significant funding to improve care worker pay if we are to fix this social care crisis once and for all.
Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said:
We believe that policies to reform adult social care will not be successful unless they address the needs of the workforce who have played such a critical role during the pandemic through a social care people plan and comprehensive workforce planning, underpinned by quality data and an understanding of our workforce now and in the future.