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Examining the social care workforce in England

Examining the social care workforce in England - Peverel Court Care


As Skills for Care launch their annual ‘State of the Adult Social Care sector and Workforce’ report, we take a look at some of the key findings and how they impact staff recruitment and retention for care businesses in England.


Skills for Care are the Sector Skills Council for Adult Social Care in England. They collect workforce data from thousands of care-providing organisations across the public and independent sectors through their National Minimum Dataset for Social Care (NMDS-SC) programme. This data gives us a unique insight into how care businesses are staffed, both regionally and across the country.

Their annual ‘State of the Adult Social Care Sector and Workforce’ report is quite a long read, so we’ve picked out some of the key insights that impact recruitment and retention of staff for care businesses.


Turnover of care staff

The turnover rate of staff working in the Adult Social Care sector of 30.8%. This equates to approximately 440,000 leavers in the previous 12 months. It was also shown in the report that Care Workers had the highest turnover rate of direct care-providing roles, at 39.5%; a huge increase of 11.1 percentage points since 2012/13.

Registered Nurses also had a high turnover rate of 34.0%, especially when compared to other regulated professions, such as Social Workers (13.7%) and Occupational Therapists (12.6%).

Around a fifth of Registered Managers left their role in the previous 12 months (22.0%); this was high compared to other managerial roles and equates to around 5,600 leavers in the previous 12 months in total.


New starters in care roles

Skills for Care estimates that the rate of new starters in posts over the past 12 months was 39.3%. This equates to around 560,000 workers. Care Workers experienced the highest starter rate, at 48.1%, followed by Registered Nurses at 35.6%.

It should be noted that the starters rate reflects staff that are new to their role. This includes both those who are new to the Adult Social Care sector (34%) and also churn within the sector – which accounts for 66% of the total. This includes those moving between roles or employers; meaning that the sector as a whole has retained the skills and experience of these workers.

However, it also means that a large proportion of employers were going through the recruitment process at any one time, with workers moving between employers with high regularity, and at considerable cost to the sector.


Vacancies in the care workforce

There was an estimated increase of 16,500 jobs between 2017 and 2018 in the independent and local authority sectors combined, from a total workforce of 1.36 million to 1.38 million.

Skills for Care estimates that 7.8% of roles in the adult social care sector were vacant at any given time. This represents an average of approximately 122,000 vacancies. The majority, around 77,000, of the vacancies were for Care Worker jobs, with the average vacancy rate for the role 9.0% of the total workforce.

The increase in vacancy rates for direct care-providing roles over recent years could in all probability be linked to the fall in unemployment rates in the UK over that period. Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that the unemployment rate was 7.8% in 2012/13, but had fallen to 4.1% by 2018/19. Pay may also be a factor; Retail Assistants earned 13p per hour less than Care Workers in 2012/13, but in 2018/19 earned 10p per hour more on average. This may shift in pay levels may also be contributing to rising vacancy rates within the Adult Social Care sector.

The Registered Nurse vacancy rate was particularly high at 9.9%. This role also had relatively high turnover and starter rates, which is likely a contributory factor to this high vacancy rate. Nurses were added to the UK Shortage Occupation List in 2015 and have remained listed ever since. The Shortage Occupation List is an official list of roles for which the domestic labour market cannot meet the demand to fill vacant posts. Listing is intended to make it easier for employers to recruit migrant workers to fill these vacancies and help reduce skills shortages.

Registered Manager vacancies at 11.4% were double the average of other managerial roles in the sector and equivalent to around 2,900 vacancies at any given point in 2018/19. Skills for Care analysis of Care Quality Commission (CQC) ratings data shows that services without a Registered Manager in post at the time of inspection (or in the year leading up to inspection) were less likely to achieve ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ CQC ratings.

The overall vacancy rate has risen by 2.3 percentage points between 2012/13 and 2018/19. This rise in vacancies, in the context of a wider workforce that has grown at a slower rate in recent years, suggests that the sector is struggling to keep up with demand as the Adult Social Care sector continues to grow, coupled with the effects of an ageing population.


Social and political influences on the care workforce

At present, Brexit does not appear to be a major contributory factor to the high vacancy rate. The number of people with an EU nationality in the Adult Social Care workforce has continued to rise since the referendum. However, according to Skills for Care, Brexit continues to have the potential to cause future supply issues for the Adult Social Care workforce, depending on the immigration rules applied post-Brexit.

Around 84% of the Adult Social Care workforce in the year 2018/19 were British. Around 8%, or approximately 115,000 workers, were of an EU nationality, and 9%, or about 134,000 workers, were of a non-EU nationality. Therefore, on average, the Adult Social Care sector had a slightly greater reliance on non-EU workers than EU Workers. As a whole, the overall nationality of the Adult Social Care sector was more diverse than the population of England, which is 8% non-British. However, there are regional variations: for example London had the highest proportion of non-British workers, followed by the South East. Care businesses in these regions are, therefore, more sensitive to future changes to immigration policy than those in other parts of the country.

The proportion of Registered Nurses who cited British as their nationality increased from 60% in 2012/13 to 64% in 2018/19. Over the same time period, the proportion of Registered Nurses with an EU nationality has risen from 8% to 18%. Non-EU Registered Nurse numbers have therefore fallen considerably in this time.

Following the Government’s white paper on ‘The UK’s future skills-based immigration system’ in December 2018, the specifics of immigration post-Brexit remain unclear. There could be a significant impact on the supply of workers to the Adult Social Care sector in the future.


Preparing the care sector for an ageing population

The ‘Projecting Older People Population Information System’ (POPPI) uses figures taken from Office for National Statistics data to estimate the composition of our future population based on age bands. POPPI shows that the number of people aged 65 and above is projected to increase between 2018 and 2035 from 10.2 million to 14.1 million people in England, an increase of around 38%.

Between 2012 and 2017, the population aged 65 and over increased by 2.1% per year on average. This was faster than the population aged 75 and over, which increased by 1.5% per year on average. However, between 2017 and 2018, the population aged 75 and over grew at a faster rate (2.1%) than the over 65 group (1.5%) for the first time. The population aged 75 and over is projected to increase at a faster rate up to 2025, with the highest growth expected between 2020 and 2025 (an 18.8% increase).

Using models, the number of Adult Social Care jobs in each Local Authority area in England were compared with the corresponding number of people aged 65 and over, or aged 75 and over, in the population there. These two factors were found to be strongly correlated. On average, the more people aged 65 and over, or 75 and over, in an area, the larger the Adult Social Care workforce was found to be. The ‘Aged 65 and over’ model shows that, on average in 2018, for every seven people aged 65 and over in the population, one Adult Social Care job was required. The ‘Aged 75 and over’ model shows that, on average in 2018, for every three people aged 75 and over in the population, one adult social care job was required.

These models were then applied to POPPI estimates of the number of people aged 65 and over, and 75 and over, in 2020, 2025, 2030 and 2035 to create a forecast for the number of Adult Social Care jobs required going forward. The models project that if the Adult Social Care workforce grows proportionally to the projected number of people aged 65 and over in the population, then a 36% increase (580,000 new jobs) will be required by 2035. If the workforce grows proportionally to the number of people aged 75 and over in the population, then a 50% increase (800,000 new jobs) will be required by 2035.


Successful recruitment and retention leads to successful care businesses

Skills for Care published research in which employers with a staff turnover rate of less than 10% were asked to consider what they believe contributes to their success, in relation to recruitment and retention. Results included:

      • investing in learning and development (94%)
      • embedding the values of the organisation (92%)
      • celebrating the organisation’s and individual achievements (86%)
      • involving colleagues in decision making (81%)

At Peverel Court Care we have taken a number of measures to aid us with retaining our fantastic staff, including our learning and development programme and the introduction of career pathways for a number of roles. We have also implemented a Recognition and Rewards programme for our team, so we can constantly remind them how valued they are by our management team.


About Peverel Court Care

Peverel Court Care is a group of one residential and two nursing homes, located in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire: Bartlett’s Residential Care Home and Stone House Nursing Home in Aylesbury, and Merryfield House Nursing Home in Witney. We are a long-standing family business, providing personalised care, delivered by talented and compassionate people, in exclusive and idyllic settings.

With happiness at the heart of our homes, we recognise and respect the contribution made by our residents to society during their lifetimes. Valued by residents and their families; our reputation, investment in each property, and approach to appointing and developing our staff makes each home unique and the benchmark in premium care.

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