Huge workforce challenges have been identified as one of the most significant ongoing risks in social care, in a report published today.
The report is based on research commissioned by the WLGA in 2022 which surveyed senior council members and officers as well as other organisations that deliver, or support, social care in Wales.
Workforce issues topped the list of key concerns, alongside a lack of sustainable funding, and challenges associated with meeting more complex needs due to demographic changes.
Participants spoke about a range of issues affecting social care staff, including the recruitment and retention of staff, morale, status, and the need for support for career development and progression.
Many participants highlighted that providing care is difficult and tiring work that often carries great responsibility but with little recognition or reward. One participant said:
“At the moment we’re in a position where we can’t find the staff who would do those kinds of jobs, because it’s low paid and can be stressful and difficult. It’s far worse pay than working in Aldi, and far harder.”
Participants also spoke of the need to make working in care a more attractive career option: “It’s not just about [raising] the minimum wage: we need there to be a career structure in caring, so that qualifications, experience, and ability are rewarded to make it a more attractive job, and so we retain people in the profession.”
Another respondent noted the need for parity across the health and social care system, highlighting the instrumental role social care plays in supporting the health service, but that workers are not as well rewarded:
“Investment in social care is investment in the health service. They're almost the same thing. And I don't think that's been recognised in the past. I'm hoping it's more recognised now […] What we need is equality of terms and conditions with health. I know it's very expensive, but unless we find an answer in Wales to that conundrum, we're always going to be at a disadvantage.”
Welcoming today’s report, Councillor Huw David OBE (Bridgend), WLGA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care said:
“The social care workforce does incredible work enabling all those who draw on care and support to live a fulfilling life. However, today’s report adds further evidence to the need to address the workforce challenges facing us with urgency. We need a workforce who are truly valued, have parity of esteem with NHS workers and are appropriately rewarded for the invaluable work they do.”
“A failure to prioritise and invest in social care and the workforce, that continues to deliver support to people with dedication and commitment, will significantly weaken an already over-stretched and under-funded system, with severe consequences for people who require social care to live an equal and meaningful life.”
Councillor Llinos Medi (Ynys Môn), WLGA Spokesperson for Health and Social Care said:
“Today’s report lays bare the impact a decade of consistent underfunding of social care and underinvestment in preventative services has had on our ability to provide good quality social care that helps build independence and resilience.
“We know many people rely on social care to support them to live independent and fulfilling lives but as highlighted in the report, councils continue to have significant concerns for the future of our essential social care services. Now is the time for a meaningful conversation about the future delivery of social care and how we will find a long-term sustainable funding solution for social care.”
Notes to Editors
A Question of Priorities Research