How the Care Sector Can Recruit and Retain Staff

Professor Martin Green OBE is an Expert Advisory Council member for P&G Professional and the Chief Executive of Care England.

Social care is facing many challenges, but one of the biggest is how to recruit and retain our workforce. The social care workforce is very large, consisting of over 1.4 million people (more than work in the NHS), but we also have a 34% turnover rate – and there are over 105,000 vacant posts.

Our workforce is the biggest asset in social care, and throughout the pandemic, they really showed both their commitment and professionalism. I heard of many occasions when social care staff went above and beyond the call of duty to support the people in their care.

The pandemic has left many social care staff exhausted and it is really important that as we start to develop a new future for our sector, we begin by giving staff the recognition they deserve. The legacy of Covid has to be a new deal for the social care workforce.

Not only have we lost staff because of the pandemic, but the Government introduced a policy of mandatory vaccinations in care homes, though not in other parts of social care or the NHS, which led to about 30,000 staff resigning. While it is very important that all social care staff are vaccinated, implementing the policy was very challenging for social care.

The UK’s withdrawal from the EU also took another group of people away from our sector. There now needs to be a reappraisal of every aspect of the social care workforce, including planning and career prospects, to put staffing issues on a sustainable footing.

It is my view that we need new skills and competency frameworks, with very clear career pathways and portable qualifications that must be the building block for careers in social care. We also need to look at the quality of the social care offering and create good quality jobs where staff are well supported in order to ease the challenges ahead.

In order to make social care an attractive place to work, there are several things that employers need to do to ensure that social care is a destination of choice, both for younger people starting out on their careers or, indeed, for people who are changing from other sectors.

Social care is a very diverse sector, and there are so many different roles and professions in which you can develop your career. We not only need frontline care staff, but there are also good roles in logistics, catering, and of course, hygiene and infection control.

The latter was always an important part of social care delivery. Still, the pandemic has put into sharp focus the importance of having proper hygiene and infection control regimes, and the staff that deliver these crucially important services are a vital part of the social care workforce.

Working in social care is not easy, but it is very rewarding – and the rewards for staff come from the interaction between themselves and those they support. With this in mind, any repetitive tasks requiring staff to be taken away from frontline interactions with the people they support must be as easy and effective as possible. That certainly goes for the issues around cleanliness and hygiene; these are vitally important, but it is up to social care employers to make sure that they are as easy as possible for staff to complete.

Both staff and residents want the assurance that anything they are delivering is good quality, and that’s why they use products that are tried and tested, providing both peace of mind and ease of use. P&G Professional products such as Flash Professional and Fairy Professional are simple to use yet highly effective. Staff and residents alike can feel assured that they will deliver the best possible cleaning solutions.

Choosing household name brands provides a sense of the familiar, given their consumer counterparts are seen in millions of homes and trusted by countless loyal customers.

Professional brands adapted for the care sector provide comfort through a sense of reassurance thanks to their efficacy and reliability.

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