11 Jul 2024

Demand for homecare remains high and supply is not matching it

New research from the Homecare Association shows nearly half of homecare providers cannot meet current demand despite improvements in staff retention, whilst others have insufficient work for their careworkers.

Failure to ensure enough homecare risks a decline in health and well-being, more hospitalisations and prolonged stays. Over-supply of homecare leads to a race to the bottom on price and increases risk of unsafe, poor quality care and labour exploitation. Recruitment within the UK remains tough because councils and NHS bodies don’t pay enough for providers to offer competitive wages. In the short-term, we thus also need careful international recruitment to meet needs in some places. Safe and ethical employment of all careworkers, whether from the UK or overseas, is vital.

The new government must acknowledge that funding, commissioning, regulating, and providing homecare are interdependent. Focusing on one aspect without addressing the dependencies risks creating more problems.

The Homecare Association conducted a survey of members between 13 March and 12 April 2024. We gathered responses from 307 homecare providers across the UK, delivering care to 68,000 clients and employing over 38,000 careworkers.

Key findings include:

  • 48% of providers cannot meet current demand for homecare services, with 84% citing recruitment difficulties as the primary reason.
  • 44% of providers experienced a decrease in careworker turnover compared to last year, while 41% reported no change.
  • 88% of respondents now offer pay of £12 per hour or more, with 6% offering £15 per hour or more.
  • 49% of respondents do not employ workers from overseas, while 27% employ between one and ten international recruits and a similar number (24%) employ 11 or more. Top barriers include transport issues (45%), cost of process (29%), and language/cultural concerns (28%).
  • 91% of providers report sponsored workers approaching them to ask for extra hours because their original sponsor is not giving them enough.

Dr Jane Townson OBE, CEO of the Homecare Association, commented:

" Our survey reveals a stark mismatch in homecare supply and demand. Nearly half of providers cannot meet needs, while others struggle with over-capacity.

Local authorities must improve the way they shape local services and commission and purchase homecare. They can't do it alone. The government must fund councils so they can pay a minimum price for homecare. Providers need fair fee rates to enable them to offer fair pay and working conditions for our dedicated workforce.

Labour must recognise that funding, commissioning, regulating, and providing homecare are interdependent. Focusing only on employment practices won't solve all the problems and could jeopardise provision.

The government cannot fix the NHS without also fixing social care”.

The Homecare Association calls on the government to:

  1. Give enough funding to local authorities so they can pay a fair price for care. This will help providers offer better pay rates and improve working conditions. According to the Homecare Association’s Minimum Price for Homecare 2024/25, this would require an hourly fee rate of at least £28.53 per hour.
  2. Make international recruitment easier with safeguards for workers and practical guidelines for homecare providers.
  3. Ensure local authorities improve commissioning practices. We need better management of supply and demand of homecare services and a move to outcome-focused approaches.

For the complete report, including detailed findings and recommendations, visit the Homecare Association website.