Workforce recruitment and retention problems are among the three key problems affecting social care, according to a report calling for funding for the sector to be made “strong and sustainable”.
Successive governments’ failure to properly fund social care is leaving millions of people at risk of losing vital support, according to a new analysis published today.
“There will be a direct impact on the lives of disabled people as well as a knock-on effect”
The warning comes from the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, a national body representing leading not-for-profit disability support providers.
The report – titled True Costs: Why we cannot ignore the failure in social care funding – is a stark warning that the chronic under-funding of social care must be reversed, said the group.
It has pinpointed three key challenges faced by voluntary sector providers, which mean that funding is currently insufficient.
The VODG report cited these challenges as increasing demand for services, rising costs of providing services, and workforce recruitment and retention problems.
For example, it highlighted that staff turnover was high and increasing in the adult social care sector, at 31% in 2016 up from 25% in 2015.
In addition, national figures showed that in 2017 there were an estimated 90,000 vacancies across the adult social care sector at any given time.
Meanwhile, the report stressed that demand for services was rising while funding for the necessary support was “dwindling”.
It acknowledged that adult social care had won some additional funding – such as the Improved Better Care Fund and the Adult Social Care Precept – but this was a “drop in the ocean” given the demand, rising costs and workforce issues.
In addition, there were other pressures on the sector like the average hourly rate paid to providers increased with the introduction of the new national living wage and Brexit.
An estimated 90,000, or 7%, of adult social care jobs in England are filled by overseas workers from European Union countries, said the report.
If social care support failed, there would not only be harmful implications for those who use services, but also on the NHS as demand increases for emergency care, warned VODG.
To create a strong, sustainable solution for social care, the report called on the government to develop a plan for a sustainable social care workforce and identify a long term funding solution.
It should also drop retrospective action to recover mistaken underpayment of the national living wage for sleep-in shifts that would “ruin” some providers, said the group.
VODG chief executive Dr Rhidian Hughes said: “The issue of squeezed funding, increasing demand, increasing costs and workforce challenges has wider ramifications.
“There will be a direct impact on the lives of disabled people as well as a knock-on effect on other public sector services such as the NHS,” he added.
VODG represents over 80 voluntary and charity social care disability provider organisations, employing more than 85,000 staff.