Following a report from the National Audit Office (NAO), a Stockport solicitor is warning that the care sector faces a staffing crisis as an ageing population increases demand, impacting on the region.
It’s believed a combination of low wages, staff being undervalued and poor career progression are causing an unsustainable care industry, both for those in residential care homes and those requiring at home care.
To meet the industry’s current challenges, the Department estimates that its workforce will need to grow by 2.6 per cent every year until 2035. At present however, social care providers are struggling to recruit and retain staff.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office said:
Social care cannot continue as a Cinderella service – without a valued and rewarded workforce, adult social care cannot fulfil its crucial role of supporting elderly and vulnerable people in society. Pressures and demands on the health and social care systems are increasing, so the Department needs to respond quickly to this challenge by giving the sector the attention it deserves and needs, instead of falling short and not delivering value for money.”
Stockport solicitor Kerry Blackhurst, associate solicitor in the Personal Law Team at SAS Daniels LLP, specialises in advising older, vulnerable and disabled clients on a range of issues, including the provision and funding of health and social care and has noticed the impact in Stockport:
The struggles seen nationally in the social care sector are visible in Stockport and the surrounding areas. For example, we have seen a significant demise of individually managed, or owner-managed, care homes but conversely some of the larger corporate care providers have also faced intense financial pressures.
“In the past, Stockport has been listed as having one of the highest levels of inadequate care services in the country. This is, in part, due to staffing issues. Social care workers look after some of our region’s most vulnerable people, yet they are some of the lowest paid workers. It’s a highly skilled job but isn’t paid as such.
“We’re also seeing a North, South, divide in the NAO report. One of the issues with the care sector is low wages and people simply cannot afford to live in cities like London and some of the more expensive southern counties on these incomes. Therefore, the South is seeing higher rates of job turnover and vacancy rates and, on comparison, the rates for Northern regions appear better. The North West was found to have the second lowest job turnover rate in the sector, with only the North East having a lower average, and we also have the third lowest job vacancy rate, however these shouldn’t be taken out of context.
“Essentially, the issue is nationwide, so it’s difficult for local authorities to make improvements in their areas when they have funding issues that only the Government can change. Therefore, we need to plan ahead as individuals for ourselves, and our families, and save for our future.
“In order to minimise any stress caused, should you or a family member or friend require a social care service, it’s worth getting both financial and legal advice. Find out what you’re entitled to and what your options are.
“Despite the scrutiny the sector comes under, it’s full of hard working and caring people who work tirelessly to improve the lives of elderly and vulnerable individuals, so it’s about finding the best solution for your needs.”