Homecare Association Submission to the Workforce Recruitment, Training and Retention Inquiry
The Homecare Association's submission to the Health and Social Care Committee's Inquiry into Workforce Recruitment, Training and Retention is available below.
Unmet need for homecare is high and rising, with potentially dire consequences for older and disabled people and their families, wider communities and the NHS. This is driven in large part by inadequate workforce capacity. In turn, this is a result of years of under-investment by central government, which has led to poor practices in commissioning and purchasing of homecare by councils and poor pay, terms and conditions for careworkers.
Our members report that recruitment and retention of careworkers is exceptionally challenging. In November 2021, 85% of respondents in a survey of homecare providers (n=339) said that recruitment is the hardest it has ever been. Regulations enforcing vaccination as a condition of deployment will make this situation even harder. Current data on vaccine uptake suggest we are set to lose up to 20% of the homecare workforce after 1 April 2022. At the same time, careworkers are leaving in droves for better paid jobs in retail and hospitality where vaccination is not required. Neither central nor local government appear to have a contingency plan for how to provide care for those who lose access to it.
We call on the government to:
- Fund social care adequately so that homecare workers are paid fairly for the skilled roles they perform, and at least on a par with equivalent public sector roles. We recommend NHS Band 3 Health Care Assistant pay of £11.14 per hour.
- End the practice of councils and the NHS of purchasing homecare “by-the-minute”, move to payment in advance on planned care and focus on achieving the outcomes people want.
- Support development of an expert-led workforce strategy for social care and a 10-year workforce plan, aligned with the NHS People Plan.
- Create a professional register for careworkers in England, covering all paid social care workers in both regulated and unregulated care services. Registration of careworkers needs to be adequately funded and carefully implemented.