Urgent staffing solutions required to help providers like Chapter Care amid ageing population
Late last year, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its national population projections. The findings showed that the number of over 85s in the UK is set to double within the next 25 years, adding fuel to industry fears of a looming social care crisis.
With the UK population set to rise by 3 million (or 4.5%) in the next decade to 69.4 million by mid 2028 (up from 66.4 million as of mid 2018). One of the big issues in the care sector is training and retaining staff.
The Parliamentary Review spoke with Jeff Wilton-Love, director of Chapter Care, a family-owned service operating in North Devon. Chapter Care provides domiciliary care and support to users throughout the county, including in many difficult to access areas.
Speaking about the challenges in running a care organisation in the current climate, Wilton-Love explains what Chapter Care has done in an industry suffering from a depleted workforce:
“The care industry as a whole is a strained sector. We have found that workers are leaving the sector to pursue jobs in retail and the service industries, mostly due to the increased pay that workers can receive for this type of work. The amount we can pay is dictated by the local authority, which bases these figures on UK Homecare Association guidelines, which suggest that everyone should be paid at the national minimum wage. Because of this, we struggle to remain competitive in the workplace market, as we are competing against businesses that can guarantee shifts and pay £9.88 an hour.”
Clearly the issues surrounding employee retention will require work not just from the care providers themselves, but the authorities and agencies which employ them to look after our ageing population. Wilton-Love goes on to talk about the steps they have taken while dealing with the staffing challenge:
“We developed a business model in which we could pay by shift to try to address some of this disparity. This development has brought huge risk to the company, however, and I believe we are the only agency in the southwest to do this. A huge percentage of our income goes on staff wages, which leaves very little for running costs, but, through innovative finance solutions, we have managed to cope.
“We believe that everyone needs to follow our example. The NHS Trust Local Management Board, which we sit on, have attempted to find a way to make this standard procedure across the sector. We need to draw people back into the sector now before the situation significantly worsens.”
Chapter Care’s innovative solution to ensuring their carers stay with them for the long-term can certainly be learned from across the industry. However, more steps need to be taken across all parties if the sector is to be able to cope in light of the ONS’ projections.
Readers who are keen to hear more may be interested in tuning in to The Parliamentary Review's podcast, which Wilton-Love took part in last year along with our co-chairman Lord Pickles. The podcast is available on the following links: