Care providers are currently feeling the strain as demand continues to grow at an ever-increasing rate as a result of an ageing population and cuts to funding. Here, as the sector celebrates the hard work of care providers, Steve Sawyer, director of Access Group’s health and social care division, addresses the key issues facing the sector and the next steps to help staff offer an outstanding level of care.
Skills for Care recently reported a rise of more than 22,000 vacancies in the care sector over the last year, meaning that there are now more than 110,000 vacant jobs waiting to be filled in the adult social care sector. With further uncertainty on the horizon as a result of Brexit, this gap in the jobs market may well increase.
Recruiting the best talent to the sector has always created challenges for care providers, with long hours and high levels of pressure and responsibility meaning that other sectors, such as retail, sometimes offer a more attractive prospect.
This means that many employers are now operating in an incredibly competitive jobs market, making the task of finding and retaining staff increasingly difficult. Some care providers are now moving away from making recruitment decisions based on traditional CVs alone. Instead, employers now place greater emphasis on more progressive values and skills-based approaches. Using psychometric assessments, for example, is one method being used to find out more about a candidate’s soft skills – highlighting traits that may be missed during a traditional CV and interview process, including adaptability and the ability to work under pressure.
Once the right staff have been recruited, an ongoing challenge for business leaders can be retaining these valuable employees. What may be surprising, however, is the fact that many of the carers switching jobs are not leaving the sector as a whole, rather moving to another home or care provider. Skills for Care research shows that 67 per cent of recruitment in the social care industry is from other roles within the sector.
This means that employers who are able to foster high levels of employee satisfaction could benefit from improved retention levels among staff who have a strong passion for providing outstanding levels of care.
Reaching, and maintaining, high productivity among the current workforce is perhaps the biggest challenge facing the social care sector. On top of bedside care, home visits and medical processes, staff are often burdened with a number of time consuming administrative jobs, including updating Medication Administration Records (MAR) sheets and managing patient files. Although absolutely necessary for CQC compliance and patient safety, these tasks can cut into the limited time staff have for face-to-face care with patients.
One way to maintain productivity levels, and still allow time for effective care, is to introduce digital technology. Many forward thinking care providers are already reaping the rewards of cutting the time spent by staff fulfilling laborious administrative tasks. By enabling carers to utilise eMAR and access rotas and care plans from a mobile device, employers are investing in providing the best tools for their staff.
While technology is far from a silver bullet for the challenges face by the care sector, offering staff the opportunity to provide the maximum of face-to-face care with patients will lead to a safer, positive experience for both patients and employees.
For more information about Access Health and Social Care, please visit: https://www.theaccessgroup.com/care-management/