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Social care under pressure

Mark Topps looks as some of the pressing issues facing the social care industry, including recruitment, fuel prices and the cost of living.

Close up shot of a middle-aged man holding onto a fuel nozzle with their right hand, filling up their car with diesel, with a petrol stations scene blurred out in the background.
Mark Topps
Mark Topps
Regional Business Manager
Published on:
17/6/2022
· Last Edited On:
9/6/2022
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8-minute read

Since the pandemic, the social care sector has hit by one hurdle after another, with many of left wondering what could possibly be next. In this week’s column I look at some of the pressing issues facing the industry.

Recruitment

In November 2021, 40,000 staff left the sector due to stress, increasing month on month compared to the previous year. And according to the latest monthly data from Skills for Care, vacancy rates within the care sector nearly doubled from 5.9% in March 2021 to 10.3% in May 2022.

With growing vacancy levels, reduced uptake of roles and a greater number of people leaving the sector, a very worrying picture is being painted around the future of social care.

Many managers and services I’ve spoken to recently have told me that they’ve given up on recruitment and are focusing their effort on retention instead. Although retention is important, we still need to attract new talent into the sector to bring their expertise and knowledge to support developing areas that will have a huge impact on the future of care delivery, like data analysis and marketing.

If you’re struggling to recruit new staff, have a read of my top tips to attract and hire team members.

Fuel prices

A combination of Brexit, the war in Ukraine and the impact of COVID has led to the latest issue to hit the to the sector – rising petrol and diesel prices. Last week, the RAC warned that the average family car will cost £99.40 to refuel and the price will likely continue to increase.

Due to the rising costs, many care providers have increased their pence per mile for their workforce, however I’ve spoken to a number of care staff who say they’re out of pocket and several managers who’ve expressed concerns that their staff are phoning in sick or taking emergency leave, leaving their services short staffed.

Cost of living

If rising petrol prices, recruitment challenges and people leaving the sector wasn’t enough, we’re also feeling the effect of the cost-of-living crisis. Last week, I held a session for paid and unpaid carers who told me about their heating bills, rising food costs and worries for the future. The outlook wasn’t positive.

Providers themselves are feeling the squeeze, with increased costs on everyday items such as equipment, utilities and food, alongside rising staffing costs (e.g., wages, pension, national insurance, role benefits etc). Not forgetting that many residential services are still in and out of lockdowns due to COVID outbreaks, impacting their ability to accept new admissions.

What next?

I want to end this week’s blog on a positive note – contrary to all the above!

We have a social care workforce who adapt to hurdle after hurdle and continue to delivering outstanding care regardless of the pressures around them.

I speak to managers and carers every day and the work they do is amazing and inspiring. Their dedication, like your own, is nothing I can put into words. I’m so proud to work with so many incredible selfless people.

Keep being amazing!

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