Nearly half of homecare workers leave their jobs within a year
Low pay, poor career prospects and lack of training of the social care workforce are contributing to a crisis in the sector, according to a new report from the Communities and Local Government Committee.
The MPs recommend the creation of a ‘care workers charter’ to enhance the conditions of workers in the sector. It will set out what care workers can expect from their employers on wages, conditions and career development, and will draw on UNISON’s ethical care charter, a set of commitments developed for councils with the aim of improving homecare.
‘It is clear there are severe challenges in the care workforce,’ commented committee chair Clive Betts, pointing to ‘a norm across the sector’ of high vacancy and turnover rates, low pay, poor employment conditions, lack of training and inadequate career opportunities.
Currently, the turnover rate for nurses working in social care is 35.9 per cent, and 47.8 per cent of care workers leave within a year. Inevitably, overwork and low staff morale are having a negative impact on those dependent on care services.
‘Homecare workers are dedicated to ensuring vulnerable and sick people get much-needed support,’ commetned UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis.
“However, they’re struggling to get by on unacceptably low wages with many not even paid for the time spent travelling to care appointments. It’s good MPs have recognized UNISON’s ongoing campaign to get all councils to reward care workers fairly. We’d now urge the government to act, otherwise the crisis in social care will overshadow everyone’s lives.”
The committee has also recommended that ‘the status of care work be improved through better pay, commensurate with skills and responsibilities, and better terms and conditions, and a stronger career structure—from apprenticeship to registered nurse— with centrally delivered training with national standards and qualifications, similar to the NHS Knowledge and Skills Framework.’
On funding, MPs welcome Philip Hammond’s commitment of an addition £2bn, they emphasise that it falls short of the amount required to close the social care funding gap.
“A long-term fix, working on a cross-party basis and involving the public and social care sector, is urgently necessary to meet the ever-increasing demographic pressures on the system. This review must be ambitious and consider a wide range of potential funding sources, looking again at age-related expenditure, options such as a hypothecated tax for social care, a compulsory insurance scheme, and differences in how individuals contribute.”
Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.