The staffing crisis in social care is nothing new. Before the pandemic, analysis from The Office Group (TOG) illustrated that social care was the most stressful industry to work in as workers tend to work longer hours and report more cases of work-related stress, depression and anxiety. We demand systemic change for a better social care service for all.
According to a recent TUC report, seven out of ten care workers continue to receive under £10 an hour. We work long hours on precarious contracts. We are shift workers, which comes with the risk of a host of health complications and following the Supreme Court’s ruling on sleep shifts in March 2020, we can expect to be in the workplace without even being afforded the minimum wage.
No worker should give so much to return from work only to then worry about paying their bills. With the cost-of-living skyrocketing and with care workers’ wages failing to keep up with the rate of inflation, we struggling to recruit and retain in a sector which provides vital services.
Recruitment and retention crisis
I was in a union meeting earlier this week and a member reported that she had lost 75% of her staff since November. She said that she had had a job advert open for three months with not one applicant apply. Workers are leaving social care to work in retail and hospitality, but also moving to work within the NHS.
In its latest State of Health and Social Care in England report, the CQC confirms fears that social care providers are facing a staffing crisis. Researchers found that across England, the number of unfilled jobs are rising month on month, from 6% of posts being vacant in April 2021 and more than 10% in September 2021. London has been worst affected with 11% of jobs vacant, followed by the East Midlands at 9.4% and the South West at 9.2%. Researchers have found care providers are having to limit their services.
Disabled people need support to thrive and access our communities. The care deficit has left thousands without the support they require and those who employ care workers via direct payments are struggling to find the staff they need to live in their homes.
The crisis runs deep
Emma Dowling, author of The Care Crisis: What Caused It and How Do We End It? attributes the crisis to decades of austerity, rampant neoliberalism and starved Local Authorities which ultimately squeezes workers terms and conditions.
Care and Support Workers Organise! are hosting a meeting where Dowling will put the crisis in context but the meeting will also hear from care workers, trade unionists, politicians and those who draw on services.
We must demand systemic change. We must organise together – only then can we win together.
Allison Treacher of Care and Support Workers Organise, a grassroots movement of Care Workers
Care and Support Workers Organise! are hosting a public meeting on 22 February 2022 at 7pm
Emma Dowling: Sociologist & political scientist Emma teaches at the University of Vienna. She is the author of The Care Crisis: What Caused it and How We End It. Her book looks at the years of austerity and financialisaton that led us to our current crisis point and points us in the direction of a more caring and equitable future.
Larry Sanders: is an American-British academic, social worker, politician, and former Health and Social Care Spokesperson of the Green Party of England and Wales.
Stella Noakes: Former Care Worker and CaSWO activist. Until recently Stella was a domiciliary care worker. Despite loving her job, a lack of opportunities for career progression and low pay forced her to make the difficult decision to leave the sector. Stella will discuss her experience working in social care and what she feels needs to be done to stop us losing skilled and passionate workers.
Steve North: Salford UNISON Branch Secretary, UNISON NEC Representative for the North West and former Community Mental Health Support Worker: Steve was involved in the campaign from Salford Unison and the city’s socialist council that won care workers a national pay rise worth £19 million. He will explore how to we tackle the staffing crisis through Trade Union strength and building strong links with progressive Local Authorities.
Clair Glasman: WinVisible is a multi-racial community group of women with visible and invisible disabilities: polio, sickle cell anaemia, osteo-arthritis and mental health issues, from different backgrounds: asylum seekers, refugees, other immigrants, UK-born.