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The path forward for social care in England

Front cover of the social care report which features a stylised graphic of a heart

Dr Erica Borgstrom sets out five recommendations for skill development to embolden the care sector’s future in England, in this piece for Care Management Matters.

When I think about career pathways in care, I think of 19-year-old Cameron on the BBC Ed Balls documentary ‘Inside the Care Crisis’.

The patience, kindness and enthusiasm shown by Cameron at St Cecilia’s specialist dementia home provides a glimmer of hope in a sector that is hanging on by a thread. Cameron loves his job but dreams of working as a paramedic in the NHS. Why? Because there isn’t a clear career pathway at the care home and, unlike the NHS, social care doesn’t offer different salary bands to progress through. If there was, he might be tempted to stay.

Statistics suggest that, by 2040, the number of people with dementia in the UK will have doubled, and that most people will be dying in their own homes or in their own homes supported by social care. So, something drastic needs to change to ensure a well-trained, settled and rewarded workforce is in place to offer care.

Not only will societal needs for care change in the coming decades, the roles in care have significantly changed in the past 10 to 20 years and, quite simply, the demands put on workers are immense. The question is, are care providers utilising the training on offer to support the workforce to forge a career in care?

Core skills

The Open University (OU) has been progressive in its research into finding a path forward in social care. The OU’s report, ‘The Path Forward for Social Care’, surveyed 500 leaders from across adult social care and social work and culminated in five recommendations for skill development to embolden the sector’s future in England.

Discussing the report, David Brindle, former Public Services Editor for The Guardian and Chair of a non-profit care provider employing over 1,400 individuals, said, ‘It will come as no surprise to hear there is little confidence that the sector has all the workers and skills it thinks it needs in coming months and years.’

The OU’s report outlines five of these core skills:

  1. Core transferable skills – These include competencies in literacy and numeracy, language and communication, record keeping, problem solving and team and partnership working.
  2. Leadership and management – In England, there have been calls to adopt a transferable leadership development model in the adult social care sector, ensuring a collaborative culture.
  3. Clinical and condition-specific skills – Besides supporting people with cognitive and sensory impairments, workers may need to manage medication regimes, assist with catheters and stomas and deliver end of life care.
  4. Person-centred care – Rather than performing tasks based on an assessment of need, workers are expected to shape services around the people they support, enabling them to live more independently.
  5. Digital and technology – The technological demands go well beyond being able to perform basic administrative IT tasks, although these remain crucial, and some reports have raised concerns around the consistency of workers’ capabilities.

Read the full story in Care Management Matters.

Care Management Matters (CMM) is the complete social care management journal. It is read by executives and senior managers in adult social care and their business advisers. CMM membership is free for all care providers and charities and it comes with a host of benefits, including daily news direct to your inbox and discounts to CMM Insight events.

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