The adult social care sector in England still needs to fill around 112,000 job vacancies on any given day, according to a new report published by Skills for Care.
Using data provided by employers to the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS), the annual ‘The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report showed there had been a slight reduction in job vacancies, but employers still needed to find thousands of new workers.
“Any reduction in the number of vacancies is welcome, but we need to attract more new recruits who have the right values to fill posts that offer long term careers where you can make a difference in people’s lives every single day,” said Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth.
“We will use the quality information in this report to make long-term workforce decisions informed by solid data in what is a critical period of change for a workforce bigger than the NHS.”
CQC Chief Inspector of Adult Social Care Kate Terroni said the regulator had been calling for a better funding settlement for the sector for years and had warned last year that the lack of a long-term sustainable solution was having a damage impact on the quality and quantity of care.
“Our latest State of Care report makes clear that these issues need to be urgently addressed and also calls for a new deal for the care workforce, which develops clear career progression, secures the right skills for the sector, better recognises and values staff, invests in their training and supports appropriate professionalisation,” Kate said.
The report revealed the percentage of days lost to sickness in adult social care across England during the pandemic increased to 7.5% between March and August 2020 compared to 2.7% pre-COVID-19.
Staff vacancies for employers updating ASC-WDS data between March and August 2020 stood at 7.0%, down from the pre-COVID-19 rate of around 8.6%.
In additional findings, the report estimates a staff turnover rate at 30.4% in 2019/20. Occupancy rates for March and August 2020 fell from 87% to 79% in care homes with nursing and from 87% to 82% in care homes without nursing. Over the same period, there was no evidence of the number of staff employed falling overall, however.
Minister of State for Care, Helen Whately, said the report highlighted the challenges in recruitment and retention and the importance of investing in training and career opportunities.
The Minister said the government had recognised these challenges with its national recruitment campaign and its Join Social Care recruitment tool and was working with the DWP to promote adult social care careers to jobseekers.
“We are supporting care providers through the pandemic with the costs of pay for staff required to self-isolate and so no care worker should lose income as a result of the requirement to only work in one location, with the £1.1 billion infection control fund,” Ms Whately added.
“As we come through the pandemic I want to see ever more appreciation of the care workers we rely on to look after the most vulnerable in our society.”