The results of a pioneering new survey, the National Care Awareness Report, have been released shining a light on the UK care sector by those operating within the care industry.

Led by organisers of UK Care Week, the National Care Awareness Survey was conducted in November 2021 in collaboration with the Care Worker’s Charity, National Care Forum and the National Care Association. Its aim was to capture a snapshot of the social care sector across the country to understand the challenges facing care professionals.

Findings from the survey demonstrate that overall, the social care industry remains under intense pressure and raised the urgency for greater support and appreciation for the carers themselves.

The key findings from the survey:

  • 72% of carers think their salaries are unfair
  • 70% don’t feel confident in their ability to sustain their business over the next year
  • 78% don’t feel supported by the social care system
  • 75% feel groups and communities are important in giving care workers a voice

Results also emphasised a feeling amongst care professionals around the lack of understanding and care around the jobs they conduct every day.

When asked: “What more could be done to support you?” care professionals answered most commonly with:

  • Appreciation
  • Recognition
  • Better pay
  • Skills and training

The results of the survey concluded that many professionals in the social care sector don’t feel supported or listened to. Questions surrounding thoughts and feelings show that many social care professionals felt undervalued and unsupported.

Whilst it remains apparent there is a disconnect between councils and government, there also seems to be a disconnection between care businesses and their staff, with many care workers saying that they want more teamwork and more input on operational decisions.

Care workers also want better remuneration, more time off (80-hour weeks shortened), and more training offered. Comparisons were often drawn to the NHS, with suggestions of a better pay and benefit package.

Overall responses from respondents, who were primarily Care Home and Home Care and Health Care workers (making up 65% of all respondents) show that aside from the ongoing trials of COVID, the sector’s three biggest challenges are:

  • Recruitment and staffing
  • Lack of funding
  • Attracting and retaining the right staff

On the question of how these challenges could be overcome, respondents suggested more funding could be used in recruitment, training and increasing social care salaries. Some respondents also suggested a National Social Care Service should be developed in line with the NHS.

Speaking about the report, Steve Clarke, managing director from UK Care Week explained: “Many care workers feel there was a change during the onset of the pandemic, when social care was more respected, but now they feel the respect and understanding has lessened.

“Whilst its apparent more funding is needed, there’s also a lot of work to be done to increase the perception of the social care industry. Care workers are crying out to be listened to, and government, unions and local councils need to listen to avoid burnout and mass shortages from staff leaving the sector.

“The results of this survey have inspired us to commit to the annual undertaking of this survey to give care professionals a voice on how they feel the sector is performing.”

Nadra Ahmed OBE, executive chairman, National Care Association added: “The only way to deliver quality care to those who need it most is to have a vibrant, skilled and competent workforce – without them any attempts to provide care and support is a pipe dream.

“The success of any vision will depend on a confident workforce who feel valued, acknowledged and rewarded for what they do and believe that the pathway they are on will be one which is a recognised career one.”

For more information on the National Care Awareness Report please visit ukcareweek.com/national-care-awareness-survey (https://hubs.la/Q01b7f2Z0)

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