“Care professionals continue to possess a relentless passion to care with expertise, professionalism, dedication, resilience, and commitment.”
Vicky Haines, MD, Kingsway Care
Care Professionals are too passionate to be defeated
How did we arrive at such a place in our society where one of the most essential elements of our communities continually fails to attract the level of attention necessary to ensure that those of us requiring care and support at home can do so?
Instead of the care sector being something to revere, appreciate, and defend at all costs, it has become continually disrespected, disregarded, and financially abandoned.
Changing the Negative Narrative
Over the past two years, we have seen a wealth of information regarding the care sector and the myriad of issues that have been perpetuated, in part, by the negative narrative around social care. This damaging view, cultivated over many decades, has amplified the message that the care sector holds little value, is unprofessional, lacks skill, and is unworthy of political and public interest. The fundamental issues within the sector, such as accessibility, funding, and recruitment, which we are all trying to resolve, are simply a result of historical negligence.
What did we expect?
If, as a nation, we have failed to acknowledge the importance of the work carried out in the community for vulnerable clients, if we have neglected to recognize the level of skill and experience required to safely care for a person in their homes if we have supported the notion that this work holds no value, if we have rejected the idea that caregivers deserve a salary that reflects their level of responsibility, if our definition of “professional” only includes roles with high salaries or degree status, if we have naively accepted the negative narrative without understanding the reality of the work, then what did we expect would happen?
Do we prefer to allow patients to deteriorate in hospitals, often to the point of no return, rather than being willing to pay for their effective recovery in their own homes?Vicky Haines, MD, Kingsway Care
Did we expect to end up with a system that is irreparably broken? Did we anticipate that an entire demographic would have to fight for access to the care they deserve? Did we foresee having a workforce that is demoralized and tired of being unappreciated, causing them to leave at the first opportunity? Did we design a care system that no one desires to join? Did we consider a dignified, positive model of care to be “too costly”? Did we prefer to allow patients to deteriorate in hospitals, often to the point of no return, rather than being willing to pay for their effective recovery in their own homes?
If these were our expectations, then we have certainly succeeded! We have ticked all the boxes!
Home Care Association Survey
The Homecare Association Care Provision and Workforce Survey 2023 (HACPWS), released in May, highlights that 54% of home care providers are delivering less care than 12 months ago, despite a significant increase in demand. This is primarily due to the inability to attract a sufficient number of caregivers to the sector.
Cost of Private Home Care
The demand for hospital discharge services has also increased substantially, but many local commissioners have chosen not to engage private home care providers, who have available capacity, simply due to their hourly rates being considered “too expensive.” Private providers charge between £25-30 per hour for home care, while local authority rates are up to 30% lower.
This is despite the Homecare Association Minimum Price for Homecare 2023-24 assessment suggesting an hourly rate of £28.44 is required to ensure compliance with the legal minimum pay rate for caregivers and the minimum contribution of costs toward running a financially sustainable business.
Fair Compensation for Care Professionals
If we are to appropriately compensate care professionals for their skilled work, this hourly rate may need to be increased further. However, the current price is dictated by local authorities who are unable (or unwilling) to value the sector by paying the market rate.
The survey also highlights other symptoms of an undervalued and abandoned public system, such as home care providers resorting to practices that are detrimental to a positive model of care, including providing care by the minute, offering visits that are too short to provide adequate care, and paying caregivers low hourly rates without accounting for travel time or mileage.
Innovation & Positive Change
However, this negative view of the care sector and the work it entails is far from the whole story. Despite being ignored, undervalued, and considered inexperienced, unskilled, and unqualified, these professionals continue to have a relentless passion for correcting the mistakes they did not create.
Alongside their expertise, professionalism, passion, dedication, resilience, and commitment, most care providers demonstrate on a daily basis, these amazing professionals refuse to be defeated. They are focusing on the improvements needed within the sector by developing innovative ways to create opportunities for positive change. See below, how Kingsway Care & NHS Sussex are leading the way with joined-up health and social care.
In a pioneering initiative, Kingsway Care collaborates with NHS Sussex Frontrunner to expedite the hospital discharge-to-home process. The Department of Health and Social Care introduced the NHS Frontrunner Pilot program to trial innovative solutions that free up hospital beds and ensure patients receive the appropriate level of care at the right time. This partnership aims to enhance the existing hospital discharge process and streamline transitions from hospital to home, ultimately benefiting patients and alleviating strain on both social care and the NHS.
Care Sector Recruitment & Retention
Recruitment and retention within the sector are arguably the most challenging issues that home care providers face, and addressing them singlehandedly is not feasible. If we were to fund the home care sector in a sustainable manner, the problems related to recruitment and staff retention would be significantly mitigated.
The current narrative, perpetuated by the media and research projects, consistently highlights the number of vacancies within the sector, thereby reinforcing the sector’s precarious state. However, this unhelpful perspective only exacerbates the negativity, dissuading potential candidates from pursuing a career in care.
Recognising the value and professionalism in the care sector
What we truly need is a narrative that promotes positive reinforcement, highlighting the abundance of skills and experience within the care sector, which can lead individuals to rewarding career trajectories, from caregiver to Registered Manager, and encompassing all the valuable roles in between. It is time to cease labeling the sector as unskilled and instead, shed light on its significance and the professionalism it entails.
Investing in Training & Qualifications
We need to invest in comprehensive training and qualifications, showcasing the depth of skills required to provide high-quality care to our communities. In doing so, we should collaborate with colleges and universities to bolster the intellectual and academic aspects of the various roles. Let us shift our focus towards attracting young people at the early stages of their careers, who can benefit from the support and guidance of experienced colleagues possessing a wealth of knowledge.
The care sector must now be viewed as a valuable asset in our communities, with government focus and investment and public support being given priority, ensuring that the contemporary narrative around the care sector, which is crucial to the well-being of everyone, now describes a sector which is professional, highly skilled, highly valued and deserving of relevant funding to repair what has been previously broken.
About Vicky Haines, Kingsway Care’s Inspiring Managing Director
Vicky exemplifies inspiring leadership through her passion, determination, advocacy for the care sector, collaborative mindset, and commitment to fostering a positive and engaging work environment.
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