- 20,000 fewer carers expected by 2020
- 1 in 5 councils unable to find a provider to cover care requests at the first time of asking
- 1 carer per 19 older people expected by 2020 – up from 14 in 2009
An additional 1,299 care workers are required in Britain to close the “care gap” in home care, yet at current rates there will be 20,000 fewer by the year 2020, according to research conducted by Prestige Nursing+Care.
Freedom of information requests submitted to 67 UK councils reveals 1 in 5 is unable to find a care provider to cover all care requests and must resort to extraordinary measures such as using in-house care to cover it. The average number of hours not placed at the first time of asking in a single month was 332 across all councils – equivalent to the hours worked by three additional homecare workers. In those councils where not all care was immediately placed, the average is 1,595 hours – equivalent to 13 care workers.
Separate analysis on ONS data found the number of carers has fallen by 10,000 since 2009 – a fall of 1.4%. In the same period, the over 65 population has risen by 750,000 people – an increase of 7.5%. As a result, the ratio of over 65s to care workers has already risen from 14 older people per carer to 15. If current trends continue the ratio is set to reach 19 by 2020, meaning an extra five people for every carer.
At current rates, in just seven years time the over 65 population will have risen by 1.5million but there will be 20,000 fewer care workers.
The care gap is particularly marked in Scotland where elderly care is guaranteed for all citizens. Five out of seven councils surveyed reported a care gap. The council with the highest number of unplaced hours had 14,612 hours in a single month that they were not able to allocate to a provider in the first instance. The average number of initially unplaced hours was 2,587 for the councils surveyed. This is equivalent to 21 extra nurses required per council. In London on the other hand, just one council out of 13 reported being unable to allocate care in the first instance. This equated to 144 hours or 11 hours per council.
Problems with Recruitment
A key reason for the struggle in recruiting homecare staff is the demanding nature of the job and relatively low pay, caused by a lack of government funding. A survey of nursing and care staff reveals that while 59% of carers felt their job was more demanding than other sectors such as hospitality, tourism and retail, 40% don’t feel this is reflected in their pay.
Jonathan Bruce, managing director of Prestige Nursing+Care said,
“As the number of older people in the UK soars there is a clear shortage of carers, as councils are unable to find providers to cover requested care. While these visits aren’t missed they require the councils concerned to resort to extraordinary and often more expensive measures – including house care – to cover the gap. This will only increase as the number of people requiring care rises and the number of Carers available to help them is set for a dramatic fall.
“One main issue is there is not enough funding, and pay rates from council sourced care are inadequate – something particularly true north of the border. The main reason care workers choose their profession is the desire to help people, but the low pay and less demanding alternative options is driving many potential carers away. Better pay, better commissioning and a better long term commitment to care must be addressed in order to close the care gap urgently.”