Care providers have spoken out about a critical skills shortage in their industry, warning that the longstanding recruitment crisis in the sector has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a grim warning, sector leaders say that the skills shortfall is likely to become more severe before it gets any better.
The York Press reported this week that there are some 120,000 staff vacancies within social care, and the number of elderly and vulnerable people being admitted into care settings is only going up. The ICG has suggested that the end of freedom of movement following the full enactment of Brexit at the beginning of the year has cut off a key talent pool for the sector. Other issues fuelled by the pandemic have also been earmarked as blame factors, such as staff being instructed to self-isolate, sickness, and some care staff refusing to receive Covid vaccines and subsequently leaving their roles.
However, support from ministers has not yet been forthcoming, after the government’s plans to support the sector were pushed back until the autumn.
Engelina Mafirakurewa, care manager at Hertfordshire-based domiciliary care provider Medow Care Services, believes that the government’s immigration rules on recruiting staff from abroad should be relaxed as an immediate means of alleviating the problem.
Mafirakurewa said: “Currently there is an issue with recruitment which needs to be addressed urgently, since the care sector is not getting enough staff. Licences are only being given if you are going to recruit a certain category of staff, such as nurses.
“As home care providers we should be allowed to recruit from abroad like any other care sector, and government rules need to be relaxed to accommodate us and address the shortfall.”
While external support is lacking, research conducted into the recruitment crisis has suggested that the sector must find its own innovative solutions to address the problem.
In a survey of 146 UK care providers, recruitment platform Join Social Care uncovered that 71.9 per cent found recruitment had become even more difficult since lockdown restrictions had eased, while 82.8 per cent reported that traditional recruitment costs were rising.
Join Social Care director, Martin Warnes, commented that the findings clearly show that traditional recruitment methods within the industry also must change.
Warnes said: “What is clearly demonstrated within this research is a growing concern from providers, that traditional recruitment methods simply aren’t cutting it in today’s climate.
“The easing of lockdown restrictions has created significant competition for staff across a range of sectors and is making it harder for care providers to secure new staff members and will be an increasing challenge to their ability to deliver care as the year progresses.
“We’re seeing, with much greater clarity, the shortcomings of historic approaches to recruitment such as generic job boards and agencies, and an urgent need for the care sector to innovate its way out of this crisis.
“There is a pressing need to not only attract new talent towards a career in care, but also to ease their transition into the sector by placing them in the right role with the right provider. The care sector needs to be more adept and confident in how it presents itself to prospective candidates which is central to our work at Join Social Care.”
The publication of the research coincides with the launch of Join Social Care’s new provider search feature, through tens of thousands of new professional care jobseekers can be matched with sector operators actively recruiting across the UK. The new function, available online, allows jobseekers to find their preferred providers and apply with them directly.