The Government has launched a recruitment campaign to fill more than 100,000 empty roles in England’s social care sector.
A TV advert and social media campaign will tell the public “there’s no better time to become a care worker” and encourage them to pursue a career with “variety” and “flexible hours”.
The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) said the Made With Care recruitment drive will run for five months.
It said the roles available are “exciting and rewarding”, with almost half a million extra job opportunities in adult social care expected by 2035.
According to Skills for Care, on average 6.8% of adult social care roles were unfilled on any given day in 2020-21 – around 105,000 vacancies.
Vacancies fell during the pandemic but have been rising steadily since May 2021, and are now above pre-pandemic levels.
The workforce body’s latest annual report also found that turnover was high, at 28.5%, equating to approximately 410,000 people leaving over the course of the year.
For weeks, providers have warned that they are struggling to provide safe care, and are having to turn away or hand back care packages, due to staffing shortages as people flock to other sectors.
They say issues such as burnout from the last 18 months of the pandemic, low, uncompetitive pay, and the requirement for care home staff to get vaccinated against coronavirus is pushing staff to leave.
Care home staff have until November 11 to get both coronavirus jabs
The Care Quality Commission said staff are quitting for better paid roles in hospitality and tourism, and warned of a “serious and deteriorating” situation for recruitment and staff retention.
The Government pledged to invest £5.4 billion into social care between 2022-23 and 2024-25 as part of reforms to health and social care funding announced in September.
This includes a £500 million workforce fund.
It also recently announced a £162.5 million fund in place until March to help recruit and keep social care staff.
A Government white paper setting out further reforms to social care and the workforce is expected later this year.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid, said: “A career in social care is rewarding and inspiring.
“Over the next three years we are investing at least £500 million to support the training and development for carers.
“We need more people who possess the core values this workforce embody so strongly – kindness, compassion and resilience – to look after our friends and family with dignity and respect.”
Minister for Care Gillian Keegan said working in social care is “not just emotionally rewarding but a career opportunity”.
She continued: “I strongly encourage people to apply for these great opportunities.
“We are investing record amounts into social care making this an exciting time to join the workforce and play an important role in helping to develop a world-leading social care system as we bring forward our plans for reform later this year.”
The TV advert, featuring real care workers, will premiere on Wednesday and run until November 21 on ITV, Sky and Channel 4.
The Independent Care Group said the campaign is “well-meaning” but that the Government has “failed to see just how deep the crisis in recruitment has become in social care”.
Chairman Mike Padgham said the mandatory vaccine policy – in place for care home staff and being considered for the wider sector and NHS – should be halted or postponed to stop more people leaving.
And he said the sector should be allowed to recruit care workers from abroad under a visa scheme to combat difficulties recruiting overseas.
He continued: “But the biggest issue of all is the historic underfunding of social care which means that social care workers do not get the rewards they deserve and people look at other, better paid and less stressful jobs – a situation that has been exacerbated because there are many other such jobs currently available.
“The Government ignored the opportunity to put more money into social care and tackle the situation at last week’s budget, and so we can only see the situation getting worse.”
The National Care Association said the campaign signals that “finally ministers are beginning to acknowledge the issues facing social care”.
Executive chairwoman Nadra Ahmed said: “The next logical step for ministers is to pause the implementation date for mandatory vaccinations ASAP.
“Procrastinating on this has brought us to the point where contracts are being handed back and care beds cannot be utilised to ease the pressure on the NHS as winter pressures hit.
“With staff set to exit next week, we will see vulnerable people facing the dilemma of not being able to receive their assessed care needs, and families feeling the anguish of trying to step in.”
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