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Susan Smith says the third sector must do more to ensure social care is a job worth doing in Scotland

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27th September 2017 by Susan Smith 1 Comment

Care workers earn less than dog walkers read the headline of a Scottish local newspaper this week. It went on to describe a local care recruitment crisis that’s leading to delayed hospital discharges and damning Care Inspectorate reports.

As social care providers in the third sector know, this is far from a local problem. Recruitment issues are a major problem for social care charities across Scotland, the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland, for example, report 87.5% of members find recruitment of front-line support and nursing staff to very or quite difficult. TFN this week reports research suggesting this is only going to get worse, with an additional £3.5 billion needed just to staff Scottish care homes by 2036.

The social care recruitment crisis isn’t just about money though, Unison also reminded us this week that more than half of third sector social care staff have experienced abuse at work. It this week published guidance for staff and employers after it uncovered a worrying trend in the sector of employers ignoring or belittling the impact of physical violence in social care.

I’d much rather work on a check out at Lidl for a reported £8 an hour than provide social care for £8.45

And then there’s Brexit. Many social care organisations report a significant number of front-line staff are EU immigrants. If this supply of staff dries up, what then?

To be perfectly honest, I’d much rather work on a check out at Lidl for a reported £8 an hour than provide social care for £8.45 (the current living wage). At one, I sit and exchange pleasantries about the weather with members of the public, at the other I rush around an elderly person’s home with barely enough time to look them in the eye and run the risk of being whacked across the face when I try to help them into the shower.

Some people will always work in social care because they care, sadly many others care a lot but don’t want to work in social care.

There are some excellent employers in the third sector trying to find solutions to these problems through new models like Local Cornerstone and Alzheimer Scotland’s new Caledonian Social Care off-shoot.

But it's not enough. Right now the most vulnerable people in our society are being supported by an increasingly vulnerable workforce and this needs to change.

Social care is an essential, important job and the advent of self-directed support and our aging population should make it more important, not less. That’s why the third sector needs to take a lead, demonstrate excellent standards, supporting initiative like Unison’s and speak out in favour of professional social care.

Susan Smith is editor of Third Force News.

Comments

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27th September 2017 by Maria

Are there directly comparable figures for staff employed by the statutory sector?From what I can see from the initial UNISON report there is a different approach taken - for statutory sector incident report numbers were requested whereas for the community and voluntary sector, we only have percentages relating to (presumably self selecting?) staff reporting an incident and how and if this was followed up.I agree that the numbers of incidents being followed up are worrying. It would be genuinely interesting to know if this is a third sector issue or a broader social care issue, but I'm not sure the different survey methods really help us to make a direct comparison as yet...