UK care recruitment crisis: the importance of eliminating stigmas

Our very own Tinga Umera was featured recently in the online publication Caring Times to discuss the importance of eliminating stigmas to alleviate the current care recruitment crisis. Here’s what he had to say:

The UK care and healthcare industry faces a real struggle at the moment to recruit the staff it requires and has, for some time, had to rely on the skills and talents of overseas workers to fill the needs of the sector.

This was highlighted recently by analysis from the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, which concluded that the care industry had “vulnerabilities” due to its reliance on overseas workers and that it left the sector exposed to “international competition for health workers”.

It is clear to see where this concern is coming from as the same study showed that the proportion of staff in the residential care sector who worked for an employer that held a sponsor licence increased from 10% to 39% from February 2022 to March 2023.

Part of the problem seems to be the withdrawal of UK workers from the care sector. Although the Oxford University study didn’t provide data or explanations of the change in proportion or shortfall in UK carers, previous studies have shown a definite change in attitudes to care work.

For example, a study of 10,000 working-age people conducted by City & Guilds last year showed around three-quarters of people would shun a job in the social care sector.

However, as we know, demand in this industry is only increasing as our population in the UK ages and there becomes greater demand for effective care services.

What is the solution?

There needs to be a grassroots movement from the industry, government, schools and communities to emphasise the social value of being a carer so that more young people and job switchers consider care as a valid vocation.

Of course, some thought must also be given to how roles within the sector are paid and it is clear that some employers are not able to pay an amount that is at least somewhat equal to the work and commitment put in by the nation’s incredible community of carers.

While addressing pay in the sector may fall on the individual care provider, as well as general market conditions and the availability of funding, when it comes to the stigmas around care there is a broader approach that needs to be taken.

A vocation and not a job

Unfortunately, for whatever reason there are a number of common stigmas about care work. These often relegate care work in most people’s minds as lesser work, than similarly skilled roles.

These stigmas include:

The propagation of these stigmas is inevitably causing many UK workers to shun a career in care.

At Nexus Care, we have made it very clear that being a carer isn’t just a job it is a vocation. One that is rewarded with fair pay and clear career progression, via training in different roles, including auxiliary nursing.

But we are only one provider of home care among the myriad number of care companies in the UK.

We must as a whole, with the help of educators and the government, make a career in care more attractive by ultimately eliminating as many outdated stigmas as possible to attract more people into the role and showcase the benefits derived from a career in care.

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