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Concerns over high staff turnover in care homes

Over 40% of care home staff leave their job within a year of taking up post and 60% within two years, according to a National Care Forum survey of over 37,000 people.

The NCF said such high turnover threatened implementation of recent Government reforms for the sector. It has surveyed its members for the last five years. The 2008 figures on staff leaving have increased to 42.3% from 34.5% in 2007, and to 61.5% from 53.9% that left in two years.

However there was wide variation in vacancy rates from the 15 organisations that reported them – overall an average of 8.7% – down from 9.1% in 2007. Average sickness absence (based on 20 organisations) had also fallen to 4.7% – down from 5.2% the year before.

A total of 35 organisations took part in the survey – a 64% response rate. Over 40% of the respondents are care workers with 2.6% (829) registered nurses.

‘The most disturbing result is the loss of so many care workers in the first year or two of work,’ noted Des Kelly, executive director of the NCF.

‘We don’t yet know enough about why they leave or where they go,’ he said. ‘As we enter a period of unprecedented change to deliver the policy of more personalised care and support services, a stable and well-trained workforce is crucial to success. Paying attention to staff retention, satisfaction and motivation is therefore absolutely essential.’


Readers' comments (2)

  • The high turnover makes it extremely difficult to ensure all staff are trained when it comes to recognising a swallowing disorder or the signs of aspiration therefore putting vulnerable people at risk. This has been an ongoing problem for years - what is the solution? Perhaps better pay and conditions and better training?
    Maybe when GPs are commissioning services they can remember speech and language therapy and the number of staff can be increased to visit homes regularly to ensure staff training and compliance?

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  • It is extremelly disturbing to read that Des Kelly of the NCF does not have enough information to explain the high turn over of staff in care homes. Having spent a considerable amount of time either managing or working in them as an agency nurse, l can tell him that the reason staff do not stay, is that they feel undervalued, underpaid, insufficient time to provide the care that they know the residents deserve.

    Since the government decided to privatise the care of the elderly in the 1970's, companies which provide care have become much bigger and the need to produce profit has increased.

    These companies rely on Social Service funding in many instances and Social Service are not prepared to pay the going rate to ensure that companies can provide the incentives that staff need to motivate them.

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