A recent report from the National Audit Office (NAO) has revealed that the number of people working in the care industry isn’t meeting the UK’s growing demand, especially with the country’s ageing population.
It’s believed a combination of low wages, staff being undervalued and poor career progression are causing an unsustainable care industry, both for those in residential care homes and those requiring at home care.
To meet the industry’s current challenges, the NAO estimates that its workforce will need to grow by 2.6 per cent every year until 2035. At present however, social care providers are struggling to recruit and retain staff.
Kerry Blackhurst, Associate Solicitor in the Elderly, Care & Mental Capacity team at SAS Daniels LLP, specialises in advising older, vulnerable and disabled clients on a range of issues, including the provision and funding of health and social care and has noticed the impact across Cheshire.
She said: “The struggles seen nationally in the social care sector are visible throughout Cheshire. For example, we have seen a significant demise of individually managed, or owner-managed, care homes but conversely some of the larger corporate care providers have also faced intense financial pressures.
“We’re also seeing a North, South, divide in the NAO report. One of the issues with the care sector is low wages and people simply cannot afford to live in cities like London and some of the more expensive southern counties on these incomes. Therefore, the South is seeing higher rates of job turnover and vacancy rates and, on comparison, the rates for northern regions appear better. The North West was found to have the second lowest job turnover rate in the sector, with only the North East having a lower average, and we also have the third lowest job vacancy rate, however these shouldn’t be taken out of context.”
“Essentially, the issue is nationwide, so it’s difficult for local authorities to make improvements in their areas when they have funding issues that only the Government can change. Therefore, we need to plan ahead as individuals for ourselves, and our families, and save for our future.
“In order to minimise any stress caused, should you or a family member or friend require a social care service, it’s worth getting both financial and legal advice. Find out what you’re entitled to and what your options are.
“Despite the scrutiny the sector comes under, it’s full of hard working and caring people who work tirelessly to improve the lives of elderly and vulnerable individuals, so it’s about finding the best solution for your needs.”