Low wages and long hours fuelling care crisis. What can be done?

Career in social care: Rewards and recognition

Over the past 18 months, the role of care workers has been brought to the fore with ample media coverage of dedicated employees in both residential and at-home care settings going above and beyond for their clients.

Despite the weekly ‘clap for carers’ ritual which became a feature of the pandemic here in the UK, research has shown that two-thirds of the employees working tirelessly within the care sector receive wages lower than the National Living Wage.

With the care crisis hitting hard, 90% of care providers state that attracting and retaining workers is more challenging than ever before, with poor wages, long hours and the additional demands placed on employees to adhere to new processes put in place due to Covid-19 cited as the main reasons why care staff are seeking to leave the industry.

Although the national recognition that many carers received with the weekly clap for carers was a nice way to recognise the hard work and dedication of those on the front line, pay that comes in below the National Living Wage means that many people working within the sector are struggling to afford for the basics of food, rent and travel. This of course does little to attract new recruits to care roles.

What can be done?

Recently, adult social care leaders have come together to represent the needs of a 1.5 million-strong workforce. They have outlined a roadmap to reward and recognise the carers who have very much been an integral part of the fight against Covid-19.

Requesting fair pay, career development and training opportunities, greater inclusivity and diversity and effective workforce planning across the whole social care workforce are at the heart of the roadmap. Expansion roles which are designed in coproduction with people who need to access care are also suggested as a means of ending the care crisis and making a career in care a viable option for new talent. It also recommends mental health provisions to be made.

This is good news for care managers looking to attract and retain their staff and help them stay in roles that they love but feel unable to maintain due to poor pay. As a result of this growing awareness, some care providers are revisiting their pay scales and offering bonuses and rewards for exceptional service to improve both motivation and client satisfaction levels.

Training opportunities are another excellent way of rewarding staff as this allows them to improve their skills and work their way up the career ladder. It is already clear that many carers relish the opportunity to build on their skill set in a familiar setting.

Ashridge Home Care

Finally, giving staff access to mental health support is a provision that the industry has been crying out for as stress and anxiety levels soar. From access to a dedicated councillor to extra holiday pay after a busy period, appreciating the mental and emotional demands of the job and offering practical tools to help tackle these challenges is key to a happy, healthy and productive workforce.

Read more: Why working for Ashridge Home Care is  a rewarding career?

For us, caring for others is one of the most important jobs you can do. We want to attract the best people to do the best job for us; therefore, we pay an attractive salary to show that we value the hard work and dedication of our team.