An article about the challenges faced by home care providers in the United States was recently published by the Associated Press.  Facing low wages, lack of benefits, and no leave options, care givers have little incentive to fill the growing demand expected to add 1.3 million positions over the next decade.  The real staffing challenge is finding individuals who can provide quality, invested care-giving for minimum wage while avoiding high turn-over rates.

This care giver workforce dilemma isn’t unique to the U.S.  Only one month ago, in July 2012, the UK Department of Health published a White Paper “Caring for our Future: Reforming Care and Support”.  In its most comprehensive overhaul of the care and support system since 1948, the DH is recognizing the attention required for carers, improving quality of care, and the integration of services.

Following the release of the White Paper, IAHSA member, National Care Forum, issued a survey to identify obstacles in recruitment and retention of care providers in the U.K and solutions to overcome this.

In its 9th year running, the NCF annual survey of staffing drew on data from 40 organizations and 55,622 staff.  It represents a considerable workforce survey and one of the largest regular surveys undertaken in the care sector.

Like in the US, health care staffing is a concern.  NCF found that “[staff] vacancy rates are slightly higher, as is sickness absence. The average staff turnover in care homes (older people) is 19.6% and in domiciliary care (older people) is 27.7% – both represent a slight increase on each of the last 2 years.”

The survey also uncovered that there is evidence for concern that the workforce is ageing and we have fewer young people working in care.

“The survey shows that the workforce is ageing with 45.6% of staff aged 46 and above – confirming a steady increase over the last 3 years. There is a corresponding decrease in younger staff with a 3.6% fall in those aged 35 and under over the last 3 years and a 1.5% drop in those aged 25 and under in the same period.”

Last station nursing home

[Photo Credit: urlichkarljoho, Flickr]