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The care workforce at breaking point

The National Care Forum (NCF) – the leading association for not for profit care providers – welcomes the research by member Community Integrated Care providing an absolutely essential independent perspective on the complex, skilled and demanding roles within social care.

Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the NCF states:

Unfair to Care is hard hitting – and rightly so. It is hard to believe that in 2021 we have workers who are highly skilled, doing complex work that enables people to live the life they want and yet being paid at minimum wage. If we have learned anything in the last year, surely it is how valuable and how precious it is to be a part of your community and have control of your life.  That is what good quality care work delivers, day in and day out, for some of the most vulnerable members of society. Yet somehow, whether by design or neglect, we have sleep walked into a position where staff are undervalued and underpaid.  We must take action now to intervene in the very real workforce crisis that is happening in hundreds and thousands of organisations up and down the country.”

“The Korn Ferry research is extremely important. It provides an independent perspective on care worker roles, and enables them to be externally evaluated and compared with other public sector roles. In doing so, it brings to light what all within the sector understand, that care work should be viewed as a comparable role to that of colleagues within health and other public sector services. This level of responsibility, requiring the care worker to respond to constantly changing needs and complexity of tasks shows the skills, resilience and personal qualities needed in these roles. It also highlights how care roles require ongoing upskilling  through training and high levels of knowledge to understand how best to offer care and support that changes lives.”

The reality of government neglect of the social care workforce for years is being felt right now. NCF have carried out research this week with members to find out how their workforce is changing in light of the opening up of the economy. Our research shows that a recruitment crisis is happening right now, and feedback from social care staff leaving makes clear just what is driving this;

Vic Rayner says:-

“Members have told us loud and clear that they are experiencing an incredibly challenging time in recruiting and retaining staff – and they only see this getting harder in the coming months. In our survey, nearly 60% said they have seen the rate of exit increase since April 2021. Over 40% of staff who leave, are leaving the sector altogether which represents a higher trend than previous national statistics. They are predominantly heading to the health sector where they can receive higher wages and better terms and conditions. They are also leaving to join hospitality and retail and they are stating that stress and burnout are at the top of the list for reasons to leave, with pay and terms and conditions coming not far behind. At the same time it is harder to recruit replacements, with particular issues in rural areas.”

We need the government to act rapidly on the evidence presented by Community Integrated Care, which rightly calls for an immediate increase to care workers’ pay, a full scale independent evaluation of roles and a detailed workforce strategy to ensure social care is a viable, respected and sustainable career.

Vic Rayner concludes:

 “We let this moment pass at our peril. Early indications from members show that the trend for exiting social care is higher than normal, that some services have to close or be reorganised as a result of these shortages, and that we have a workforce that is stressed, burnt out and looking for the door. We simply cannot sit back and allow this to happen because people rely on having the care and support they need when they need it.”




Note to Editors:

  • The National Care Forum brings together over 144 of the UK’s leading social care organisations, representing large numbers of care providers, offering thousands of services across the country, which are not for profit and always at the heart of community provision. Collectively, these organisations deliver more than £2 billion of social care support to more than 189,500 people, operate over 6,500 settings and provide more than 47,500 care home places. The NCF membership body collectively employs more than 95,500 colleagues.
  • Unfair To Care: Understanding the Social Care Pay Gap and How To Close It provides empirical evidence that frontline carers receive an unfair deal in comparison to other public funded roles and breaks the stereotype that social care is a ‘low skilled’ sector. The report is commissioned by Community Integrated Care, member of the National Care Forum.
  • NCF care workforce survey was conducted over a 48 hour period 6-7 July 2021. Respondents support over 47,000 people, operate over 1,800 services across a wide range of care and support services and employ 35,000 staff.
  • Survey findings report increase in staff exits with stress and rates of pay featuring as the main the reasons for leaving. Easing of lockdown measures has seen increased exits from staff of care home providers. Competition for staff is coming chiefly from the heath sector. Providers foresee further problems later in the year.
  • More information is available on the National Care Forum at @NCFCareForum @vicrayner @NCF_Liz
  • Vic Rayner is the CEO of the NCF and in addition is on the board of Hestia, the Care Workers Charity and the Global Ageing Network
  • For enquiries, please contact Edna Petzen,
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