Care charities battling ‘most acute recruitment and retention crisis’ in their history

A coalition of care charities and housing associations has written an open letter to the cabinet ministers, warning of “the most acute recruitment and retention crisis that we are aware of historically”.

The crisis has been caused by “many years of underfunding in the sector, compounded by a number of other factors including some staff exhausted from the pandemic and others moving to the NHS due to different approaches on mandatory vaccine regulations”, the letter adds.

The open letter has been signed by the chief executives of a number of housing and care organisations including National Care Forum’s Vic Rayner, The Orders of St John Care Trust Dan Hayes and MHA Methodist Homes’ San Monaghan.

Also signing is Anchor Hanover’s chief executive Jane Ashcroft and Craig Moule, group chief executive of Sanctuary Group including Sanctuary Care and Sanctuary Supporting Living.

They warn that staff turnover in the sector is around 30% “and rising”.

“Not only are these workforce issues causing our services to be stretched, they are also preventing organisations like ours from providing essential care to more people who need it,” the letter adds.

“This is inevitably leading to more people having to stay in hospital unnecessarily when they are unable to access care packages and be safely discharged.”

They are calling for a retention bonus for care staff, in recognition of their “dedication” during the Covid-19 health crisis.

Care workers should also be added to the list of occupations with shortages to enable more overseas workers to obtain visas to work in the sector.

A Workforce Capacity Fund should be created to tackle immediate recruitment and retention issues, their letter says.

It adds: “Without the social care workforce we have no care system. Their skills and dedication, highlighted by the pandemic, have been undervalued for too long.”

Wider recruitment concerns

The warning from housing and care charities comes amid rising fears of further recruitment challenges across the voluntary sector.

A report by consultancy Lark Owl found that current workload pressures were leading to “unsustainable” levels of burnout.

In addition, the union Community is concerned that there will be a “mass exodus of charity sector staff” from October. This is when service delivery pressures are set to escalate when the £20 uplift to Universal Credit comes to an end.

Also in September, a report revealed that the number of applicants applying for the average charity job had fallen by more than three quarters.

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