The Homecare Association has responded to the latest Skills for Care State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England report 2022.
Dr Jane Townson, CEO of the Homecare Association, commented on the state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England:
“Skills for Care’s Report shows once again that demand for social care is far outstripping supply. In homecare, workforce shortages mean many providers simply cannot take on new clients, and some providers are unable to staff existing contracts and are left with no choice but to hand work back.
“We agree with Skills for Care that there should be a workforce strategy for social care. There must be a clear understanding going forward of what it would take to meet projected demand for social care and how to recruit, reward and retain staff.
“The report highlights the particular challenges in the homecare sector, with the highest vacancy rate at 13% of all types of social care service.
“Low fee rates from councils and the NHS, and poor commissioning practices lead directly to homecare workers experiencing poor pay and terms and conditions of employment. Zero-hour commissioning leads to zero-hour contracts for homecare workers. In turn, this leads to income insecurity. Many homecare workers are not paid if, for example, the person they are supporting is admitted to hospital, or if they have to isolate after a positive COVID-19 test result.
“Furthermore, headline pay rates may not always accurately represent actual hourly wages when all working time is accounted for, as required under minimum wage legislation. Working time includes elements such as travel time and training, as well as client contact time.
"On top of this, homecare workers are struggling with high fuel costs. Collectively, they travel an estimated 4 million miles per day and many simply cannot afford to fill their tanks, so are moving to jobs that don’t require driving.
“Ultimately, unless we address the pay and terms and conditions of employment of careworkers we will be unable to recruit the workforce we need for today and into the future. It will be the older and disabled people who need services, their families and those waiting for NHS treatment who will feel the consequences of the underfunded and undervalued system.”