Hunt told workforce crisis looming

Three social care bodies have together written to health and social care secretary Jeremy Hunt, warning him of a ‘dire need’ to improve the public perception of the sector amidst a looming workforce crisis.

Care and housing to older people charity Anchor, along with Care England and think tank United for All Ages, have written to Hunt arguing that the government needs to ‘take responsibility’ to avoid a workforce shortfall of up to 1.1 million care workers by 2031.

Expressing concern that the green paper has been deferred until the autumn, the organisations said a public awareness campaign to ‘raise the profile’ of care is needed, alongside sustainable funding and a ‘recognition’ of the hard work that people working in the sector put in.

‘Technology offers only a partial solution – no amount of technical advancement replaces the need for human compassion,’ the letter said. ‘Only by the government demonstrating it values social care and its workforce will we have a chance to recruit and retain the hardworking and committed staff our ageing population and vulnerable adults need and deserve.’

According to research commissioned by Anchor of 2,185 people in the UK, 78% of people said they are unlikely to consider a career in social care; 71% of parents would not encourage their children to go into social care; and 67% of people think the profession is undervalued in society.

Men make up just 18% of the social care workforce. Further, 85% of men said they would not consider a role in social care and 35% associated working in a care home with a ‘woman’s career’, the study found.

Anchor’s chief executive Jane Ashcroft said: ‘The perception of social care among the government and the public is shockingly low and must change if we are to avoid a shortfall in the carers needed to provide today’s older people and future generations with the care they need and deserve.’