With the help of industry experts, we address the current skill shortage in the care sector and how to respond proactively. 

Since the global pandemic, the care sector has been facing significant challenges due to skill shortages, particularly in healthcare, eldercare, childcare, and social work. Addressing this shortage requires a multifaceted approach to attract, train, and retain individuals within the sector.

There are however a range of innovative recruitment methods that care homes employ to attract and retain skilled care workers.

Matthew Bond, CEO and Co-Founder at Get Borderless, explained that some of the best campaigns he has seen have been locally based, emphasising the experience new recruits have when joining the company: “Elements such as a good on-boarding experience, the opportunity for ongoing career development and  social gatherings with colleagues.”

Matthew sees that to maintain ongoing recruitment, it is critical to get the early parts above right, and to also create a welcoming environment for the new employee and their family, especially for overseas or sponsored candidates.

Collaborating with educational institutions or training programmes to encourage more individuals to enter the care profession can be beneficial as it allows the candidate to get a sense of what the role will entail. Matthew said: “It’s going to encourage some and deter others but this makes the fit better for those who join, leading to better retention overall.

“For the employer, it means they can tailor courses and feedback to the training programme”, added Matthew as he revealed that Get Borderless hope to launch a few pilot programmes along these lines early next year.

As a platform, Get Borderless can help providers with all things sponsorship for both in-country and overseas candidates. As part of that, Matthew revealed that the team will be leaning more into training programs and upskilling (likely via the partnerships above).

Chris Donnelly, CEO at Found CRM, recommends talking to your current employees for honest feedback on what they enjoy about working at your home or any areas they think can be improved will give you a true insight into how others view working at your home to attract and retain skilled care workers.

Attracting and retaining people who share your vision and goals is important. For example, when advertising for a new role, Chris recommends considering what qualities or traits are most important in a person for the role and make this clear in the advertisement.

“Consider what is truly important to your team, and make sure you offer this as an employer. Whether this is work-life balance, competitive pay, room for progression, training, and development – people are attracted to workplaces that reflect their own personal values and goals. Ultimately, a care home that prides itself on a positive and supportive working environment often sees higher volumes of applications for open vacancies,” added Chris.

Previous research from Found CRM (a care home management software) has revealed there is a demand for jobs in the care sector. Online searches for social care jobs have increased over the last 12 months, with ‘nearby care home jobs’ surging by* 129% and online searches for ‘care home part time jobs near me’ rising by 271%.

However, Chris recognises that more must be done to attract and retain talent within the care sector. Collaboration between care homes and educational institutions is a great way to encourage more individuals to consider a career in care. 

“By engaging in tailored training programmes, educational institutions can help aspiring caregivers develop essential and practical skills, for example, through work experience opportunities, creating a more competent workforce. Supporting a seamless transition from education to employment, creating a sustainable talent pipeline for care homes. Workplace initiatives provide hands-on experience, increasing the likelihood of employment in the sector. 

“Ongoing partnerships facilitate knowledge exchange, ensuring current caregivers stay on top of industry trends, news, and practices. It also creates awareness of a care operator’s name within the care sector and those seeking employment or care development.  Together, care homes and educational institutions contribute to the profession’s growth, attracting, nurturing, and retaining dedicated individuals in the care sector,” said Chris.

In order to enhance job satisfaction and retain existing staff within your home, a combination of technology and a person-led approach to staffing and recruitment can help to reduce staff turnover in care homes.

With ever-increasing pressure on care home staff to carry out all administrative tasks, there has never been a more suitable time to invest in technology to lift the workload. Staff are feeling burnt out, stressed and overloaded – leading to many quitting the social care sector. 

Found’s research has shown care homes are struggling with the pressure of coping with new enquiries more than ever before, with 68%** of all care enquiries not responded to by care homes, and a shocking 92% of enquiries weren’t followed up within a 7-day period.

Chris said: “From budgeting apps to care home software that tracks new enquiries, these types of technology can help to reduce the pressure on employees. Tasks that may have previously taken a few hours could be reduced to minutes so care workers can focus more attention on resident care.”

Investing in ongoing training and development opportunities for existing staff to upskill and meet evolving care needs is essential for the success of a home. Chris recommends talking to your staff members about the types of training and development they think they would benefit from. This will provide useful insight when planning training sessions as well as looking to spend money on training tools and platforms.

“Care Home Managers should lead by example and also look to develop their skill set. From joining a webinar, attending an industry event, or even a training session – there are lots of ways managers can upskill, too. They should also catch up with their teams regularly to find out their individual aspirations and career goals, helping them create targets to achieve them,” added Chris.

What’s more, sharing career development opportunities with team members is also a great way to encourage them to build on their skillset. 

One in every ten jobs*** in the care sector is vacant. Low morale, burnout and below-average wages drive many social care workers to leave the sector. Technology – alongside continued improvements in pay – will undoubtedly solve the staff retention issue facing the social care sector.

Found’s new data**** has revealed care homes with a lower technology uptake rate are the hardest hit in the staffing crisis – with care homes in North East England seeing the lowest staffing levels and technology adoption levels across the UK.

Chris explained how electronic systems specifically designed for the care sector offer enhanced data security, improved accessibility, and simplified record management, ultimately leading to better care outcomes for residents. What’s more, the reduction in paper usage results in substantial cost savings for care home providers, allowing them to allocate resources more effectively. 

“We’re seeing more care homes adopt software management tools – like Found. Our new research has revealed that care home managers are actively seeking CRM solutions over the last 12 months and this expected to continue into 2024 and beyond: 300% increase in online searches on Google for ‘care home management systems’***** and 133% increase in online searches on Google for ‘best care management software.”

Here are the biggest myths to address surrounding social care as told by Found: 

Myth 1: There’s no progression within the care sector

There is lots of room for growth and for those working within this sector to learn and adapt their skills. 

There are over 50 qualifications at different levels in social care, so there are always opportunities to progress and widen your skillset. If you decide you want to push your career forward once you’ve completed some social care qualifications, you’ll see a salary increase and more responsibilities, too.

Myth 2: The pay is low

Whilst those working with older people in a care environment tend to be lower paid in comparison to other sectors, it isn’t as low as you may think. All employers in the UK must pay their staff at least the minimum wage, and we’re seeing more care homes now offer the living wage.

Myth 3: Working in a care home is unfulfilling

It’s another common misconception that working in elderly care is unfulfilling. As with any job, it can be a bit challenging sometimes, however you will have regular sessions with your manager to share any negative experiences and what you’d like to improve in your role.

The training you’ll receive working in the care industry will be tailored to the kind of care and support you will be providing so you will be well-equipped to deal with challenging situations, too.

Myth 4: It’s all about personal care

Although personal care is and always will be a key part of working with the elderly, there is so much more to working in this industry! From helping with meal preparation to creating activities for residents, there’s a lot to get involved in. 

No two days are ever the same and there’s always activities to be planned. Whether that’s a music class or pet therapy session, it’s a real joy to see the enjoyment these activities bring for care home residents. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to get creative if you’re working in a home! 

Myth 5: Elderly care is a job for women

One of the biggest misconceptions is that all carers are women. There is a growing number of male carers within the elderly care sector. Previous research has found that 58% of carers are women, whilst 42% are men.

Working with elderly people is all about care, empathy, and a genuine passion for supporting the older generations. Whatever gender you are, whether you’re old or young, is irrelevant. 

Data set and methodology:

*Data taken from Keyword Planner based on internal analysis by Found CRM – November 2022 – October 2023. Full data set available upon request.

**Internal survey created by Found in 2020. Full data set is available on request. 

***UK Parliament Data: Adult Social Care Workforce In England: August 2023

**** Found wanted to reveal how understaffing is impacting the care sector and how technology can help recruit and retain staff.

  1. Based on internal Found data, the locations of care homes using Found’s technology were analysed and split by the 9 UK regions.
  2. Found compared the number of care homes using its technology and the number of social workers in each of the 9 UK regions based on data collected by UK Parliament Data & https://www.skillsforcare.org.uk/
  3. Analysis of technology uptake and social care workers for each region revealed the North East was the hardest-hit region.
  4. The findings also analysed the percentage of unpaid carers across the UK based on 2021 Census data.

Found’s research revealed regions with less than one in 50 care homes uptaking technology had some of the highest numbers of unpaid carers, including The Derbyshire Dales in the East Midlands

*****Data taken from Keyword Planner based on internal analysis by Found CRM – November 2022 – October 2023. Full data set available upon request.