Access to continuing professional development and progression opportunities are essential ingredients in social care workforce strategy, an election briefing document has found.
The statement from the Nuffield Trust describes the state of the workforce as “the most pressing challenge facing social care”. Low pay, poor working conditions, low esteem and unstable contracts mean organisations that provide care will struggle to cope with aspirations to expand the state care offer.
Among the proposed strategies to improve the care workforce:
• Enforcement of the national minimum wage or consideration of the national living wage
• Employment security for the many direct care staff on zero-hours contracts
• Adherence to agreed shared standards and value
In the document, Election briefing November 2019 Social care: the action we need, the Trust calls for clarity and consistency of offer in a system that works seamlessly alongside other public services. People should know what to expect from state support, and eligibility. A new standard national test, to determine need for services, would “help to create a fairer and more transparent system and ensure that eligibility is based on their needs, rather than their postcode”, the Trust says.
Good state funding would also raise extra money now and in the future, be fair and understandable, and pool risk. Currently, the predominant approach used for buying services from providers incentivises organisations to provide a bare minimum of services. Significantly reduced bed capacity in some regions has produced ‘care deserts’, according to the Nuffield Trust.