Research suggests that working in social care has undeniable benefits. Yet, there is a sector-wide recruitment and retention problem facing the social care workforce with vacancies in the learning disability sector sitting at 16% in 2021. This has had a profound impact on the sector and is just one of the four key policy areas that Hft has outlined in its new national campaigning plan, Voices for Our Future.
As part of the learning disability charity’s campaign, Hft will call on the Government to invest in the long-term sustainability of the social care sector by introducing a fully funded minimum pay rate for social care above the National Living Wage.
Following wide-ranging conversations with learning disabled people, Hft has also identified negative attitudes, employment and housing as the most important issues to campaign on over the next five years to improve the lives of learning disabled adults.
The official launch will be at an event in Parliament tomorrow (21 February) where MPs will have the opportunity to speak to learning disabled people to understand why these issues matter to them and what changes they want to see.
Kirsty Matthews, Chief Executive at Hft, explains,
“Voices for Our Future explains the change that needs to happen to enable people with learning disabilities to live their best life possible.
“We want everyone, including people who make the decisions in Whitehall and Westminster, to listen to people with a learning disability and be part of the change that is so necessary.”
Hft’s campaigning work will include calls for improved accessible housing standards and for the Government to take steps to prevent and challenge disability hate crime.
“Those we spoke to were also keen to campaign for improvements to the social care sector as a whole to address ongoing challenges. Many issues in social care stem from a high level of vacancies, a high level of turnover where staff do not spend long in a role, and a lack of Government funding.
“We would like to see the Government invest in the sustainability of our sector, introducing long-term reform and funding a fully funded minimum pay rate above the National Living Wage”, says Ms Matthews.
To ensure their campaigns are truly informed by the voice and opinion of adults with a learning disability, Hft is encouraging learning disabled adults and those who support them to join the Walk in Our Shoes Network. Through the network, individuals will be given the opportunity to join calls for change.
One of those who will be joining the network is Shaun Lee who has a learning disability. Having witnessed the ongoing issues of recruitment and retention in the sector, Shaun would like to contribute to the campaign hoping to change this.
He says, “I think it would be a good idea for MPs to spend a day in the life of a support worker and see first-hand the difficulties they face. They would then understand better why social care is so important and why the Government needs to make more money available so staff can be paid more.”
Shaun thinks this would help with job retention as the increased funding would help organisations like Hft to attract more permanent staff who do such an important role. This would ensure everyone with a learning disability could get the support they need and ultimately live their best life possible.