10 Oct 2023
by Policy, Practice and Innovation Team

King's College London have published a new report Understanding the impact of changes to the UK Health and Care Visa System on the adult social care workforce in England - Phase 1 - The Visa Study, which identifies important areas of learning for practice and policy on international recruitment.

The research follows the extension of the Health and Care Visa in February 2022 to include care workers, and the steady increase in the number of visas granted - latest figures (June 2023) show that visas granted to care workers comprised about 50% of visas granted within the ‘Health and Care Worker’ visa category.

The study looks at experiences behind these figures, focusing on key stakeholder groups: internationally recruited workers, diverse care providers across England, legal/recruitment agencies and sector skills experts.

Researchers, who conducted their work between Spring 2022 – Spring 2023, spoke to 74 care providers, internationally recruited care workers, recruitment/legal brokers and sector experts from social care, advocacy groups and trade unions. 

The report identifies key areas of learning, including:

  • the factors that determine whether care providers decide, or not, to become sponsors and recruit internationally, and internationally recruited care worker reasons for moving to the UK
  • the channels and systems for international recruitment navigated by care providers and people looking for work in the UK
  • how care providers and people looking for work in the UK meet and maintain Home Office / UK Visa and Immigration requirements
  • the information and support sought for recruitment processes and immigration requirements, and the cost of this
  • awareness and adherence to the Code of Practice which promotes ethical practice
  • pastoral support, workplace induction and employment rights for people moving to the UK to work in the care sector
  • the vulnerability of care workers to unethical practice, and safeguarding both care providers and care workers given the investment involved in international recruitment
  • implications for home care, dependants, and those already in the UK on Health and Care visas

Section 7.6 (pages 58 - 61) of the report highlights issues for the homecare sector which include the need for international recruits to have a driving licence and car, fluctuations in working hours and patterns, waiting time between homecare appointments, and the challenges of lone working which deepen the need for pastoral support for internationally recruited workers.

The Homecare Association met with the research team, and provided insights from a homecare perspective.

This Phase 1 study forms part of a longer-term evaluation of international recruitment of care workers by the NIHR Health & Social Care Workforce Research Unit of The Policy Institute, King's College London, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research.

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