Averting a Crisis report: “Many problems in the social care sector stem from a fundamental underappreciation of its workforce”

A new report by policy institute Public Policy Projects has found the need for significant changes to the social care sector’s strategy to accommodate future demands on the system.

Carer and patient
Carer and resident

“The Social Care Workforce: averting a crisis”, published on 26 July, states that some carers are paid less than dog walkers and calls for urgent action from the government to improve the recruitment and retention of care professionals and volunteers in the adult social care sector.

Damian Green, who served as First Secretary of State and Minister for the Cabinet Office from June to December 2017 in the Second May government, said the minimum wage for care workers should be increased in line with NHS pay. He added a shift in public opinion similar to that received by nurses following the work of Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War was needed for care workers.

“We need more care workers, we need them to stay longer in their jobs, and we need them to be better paid and more highly regarded,” said Green.

“Unappreciated and underpaid, the workforce is in need of a ‘Nightingale Shift’ – an elevation in status, pay, and conditions akin to that of nursing thanks to Florence Nightingale’s work in the Crimean war,” commented Mary Brown, policy analyst at Public Policy Projects, who wrote the report.

“This elevation of the profession is essential if we are to achieve any significant change in the social care workforce.”

The report, which coincides with the Tory party considering tax cuts, included recommendations to raise the minimum wage for care professionals, in line with equivalent roles in the NHS Agenda for Change pay scale, create positive advertising campaigns for social care, and establish a Royal College of Care workers, as well as support the Social Care Leaders Scheme (the ‘Teach First’ of social care) and integrate volunteers into workforce strategy.

“Many problems in the social care sector stem from a fundamental underappreciation of its workforce”, the report concluded. “This underappreciation is manifest both in the remuneration, and public perception of social care. Significant aspects of the sector’s strategy must change if future demands on the system are to be accommodated. This must include improvements in pay and conditions, an increase in standing among the public, serious investment into nurturing leadership and talent, and the effective harnessing and coordination of the volunteer sector.”

Date Published: July 27, 2022