UK Care Sector in Crisis

Posted on: 10.06.2012    12:11:09

A recent article in the Guardian summarises the current dilemma in the care sector and it is only set to get worse with an aging population and continuing government cuts that only exacerbate the situation.

However we need to shout out about the fact that whilst the UK situation is much more in the public domain than elsewhere, we are looking at part of the big 5 international skills shortages around the globe as the world becomes a smaller place in terms of moving resources around. We need to wake up to reality and recognise that we will not get the facilities demanded by society unless we are prepared to pay and reward those that provide the services.

The healthcare sector in most developed countries is sacrosanct but the funding of it is handled differently and the adjustment necessary in the UK is greater than elsewhere where “free healthcare” has been the image portrayed until recently.

However the twin challenges of costs and recruitment are now before us and are intertwined now and into the future. Here are the points we need to consider

  • The government contribution to care home providers makes it economically unattractive to provide the care.
  • We are seeing a two speed service level emerging as private sector providers try to survive by promoting the private care side of their operations
  • It is cruel to say but private sector “stock” is generally in better condition, needs less care and buys more services during a longer stay than state sector placements. Business is business, which sector would you chase?
  • Inevitably caring for the truly needy poor will suffer.
  • We agree with promoting care in the home but from personal experience we know the time pressures involved and the little chat to avoid loneliness and isolation is just not there any more and the services are becoming more functional by the day. Under-staffing and the constant changing of carers doesn’t help. Staff burn out is regularly reported
  • The care sector, whether it is domiciliary care jobs or general care home jobs, are poorly paid when you look at the expectation and skills expected from candidates and the flexible working styles. These gaps won’t be closed until the industry is prepared to pay up and the industry can’t pay up unless the government is more realistic on funding.

Exchange rate differences also play a significant role in the decision making of qualified candidates. The problems of the Euro have for once worked to the UK’s advantage giving candidates from Euro denominated countries like Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal a 15% pay increase in the last 12 months but whilst we are are seeing an increase in general candidate registrations from these counties plus France, the care sector seems to be of little interest as candidates recognise their value in international markets.

Some high end providers of in home complex care are boosting pay rates as there is less competition in the sector but the recent announcement of plans for respite care for family carers won’t happen unless funding and rewards are right.

As an international recruitment agency we love mass recruitment opportunities but we’ll be keeping a watching brief until we are able to offer candidates attractive packages and the industry needs to rethink its approach to recruitment to succeed. Going fishing is a markedly different from catching fish and to catch the right fish you need to use the right bait.


Author: Chris Slay

Skills Provision will allow our articles/quotes to be reproduced on other formats as long as full accreditation is given.