new social care standards to ensure health and social care work more collaboratively

COVID-19 demands rapid skill shift in care home staff

Care home managers face a rapid skill shift in care staff teams due to the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A recent survey of 500 care sector managers by the Open University identifies that over half of care operators are operating at minimum staffing levels or below – as a result of COVID-19 and Brexit. Skill gaps in the current care team skill mix have also emerged:

  • 67 per cent of care home operators now prioritise different skills
  • 46 per cent of industry leaders will prioritise staff capable of adapting to evolving practice.

Specific skills now in demand cover areas such as digital, leadership, technical and managerial. Specifically, the skill shift likely to be needed in the future includes:

  • Core, transferable employability skills such as competencies in literacy and numeracy, language and communication, record-keeping, problem-solving, and team and partnership working
  • Expertise in clinical conditions affecting older people
  • Skills in person-centred care.

The report notes the lack of clearly defined career pathways and opportunities for progression as major barriers to achieving the necessary future skill set. The report says: “A workforce that is unevenly skilled and to greater and lesser degrees transient creates the risk of problems with the quality and continuity of care offered to people receiving services.”

Responding to the findings in the report, Professor Samantha Baron, Open University head of School for Health, Wellbeing and Social Care, suggested significant reforms are required to address the identified staffing issues.

Professor Baron singles out promoting the sector to younger individuals’ and implementing a recognised career framework for social care as possible solutions to the skills deficit.

Social care apprenticeships may also provide a solution, the report suggests.

By Harry Gibson

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