Against a backdrop of a critical staffing crisis in the social care sector, Care England hosted a roundtable discussion titled, “The Value of Care Workers: Personal Perspectives and Experiences” on 12th June 2023, at Priory Hospital, Barnt Green.
Drawing on stark Freedom of Information data revealing the government’s unsuccessful recruitment efforts despite almost £24 million spent over the past five years, the event aimed to highlight the crucial and undervalued role of care workers in our society.
The roundtable offered a unique platform for care workers across the West Midlands to voice their experiences, insights, and personal challenges amidst the current circumstances that has left approximately 165,000 vacancies in the care sector and put an enormous strain on the NHS. In the West Midlands specifically, the total number of posts increased by 0.2% in 2021/22, but the starter rate (the number of people starting social care roles) for the region fell from 36.6% in 2018/19 to 28.5% in 2021/22, reflecting recruitment and retention difficulties rather than a decrease in demand for social care staff.
Professor Martin Green, Care England’s CEO, chaired the event. He said: “The public generally does not understand the transformative impact care workers have on people’s lives. What I have taken away from today’s conversation is how committed every single one of you is to the people you support, and how tenaciously you fight to enable them to live well.”
One of the panellists, Abigail Crompton, Registered Manager at Coppice Lodge (National Care Group) located in Kidderminster, Worcestershire shared personal experiences in care work, saying; “Even on the most challenging days of social care, you can still always find a positive and when you do, it is so rewarding. It is hugely satisfying to have those moments and to be able to walk away and reflect on how many people you have supported and empowered to unlock their full potential to live a full and happy life.”
Another key participant, Paige Boddice, a student on her placement at Kineton Manor Nursing Home based in Warwick, offered insights into the emotional rewards and personal satisfaction derived from care work. She noted, “My favourite thing about social care is knowing that you have made even a little bit of a difference in the quality of life of individuals. One of my favourite things about my job is doing activities with the residents.”
Dr Paula Du Rand and Tintu Tom of Kineton Manor Nursing Home went on to recount a story of a resident who came into their service and care staff enabled him to rediscover his old talent of writing, ultimately leading to him writing an autobiographical book which was published and accompanied by a book launch.
Nigel Taylor, Group Head of Learning and Development at CareTech Community Services Ltd, highlighted the need for a shift in the narrative at a national and government level of what it means to work in care and a recognition that “amazing is normal in adult social care.”
The roundtable underlined the need for a proactive initiative that deepens societal understanding of the essential work performed by care workers, illuminates their critical role in society, and advocates for their just compensation and recognition.
Speaking after the event George Appleton, Head of Policy at Care England, said: “The roundtable highlighted the diversity of rewarding roles, and opportunities to build a career that makes a difference. The positivity from everyone today reflected that the adult social care sector provides an exciting, challenging and professional career that allows for lives to be transformed.”
Care England remains committed to working collaboratively with the government and all stakeholders to confront the crisis, ensure the future stability of the care sector, and most importantly, to advocate for the fair treatment and recognition of these dedicated professionals.