Home Care Day 18: Workforce blog from our National Workforce Lead

The 4 R’s: the open door of recruitment and retention in social care

‘A career in care is not the same for everybody but it needs to be available to everybody’

Independent sector home care services support 47% of nearly 50,000 people who receive this form of support, over half of whom are frail older people.  It also employs nearly 54,000 people in Scotland.  The sector is absolutely crucial in supporting people to stay at home for as long as possible and, alongside care home services, in preventing admissions and supporting discharge from acute settings.

However on-going, recruitment and retention challenges have continued to intensify for home care providers throughout Scotland; fewer people are choosing to enter the home care sector and more people are leaving.

Mindful of the impact this is having on Scottish Care members, Workforce Matters supported a piece of research that sought to capture the employment journey of so many committed, dedicated and skilled individuals of different ages, backgrounds and experiences working in care homes and care at home organisations across Scotland.  The 4 R’s - recruitment, regulation, representation and retention – provides us with a framework designed to explore the experiences of the workforce and in doing so, encourage us all to think differently about transforming the way we enable care provision and the people who deliver it to grow and flourish.

To make this a reality however, we have to consider the 5th R – reality.

  • The reality of trying to develop, train, qualify and lead a workforce against a backdrop of task and time commissioning, fifteen minute visits and the persistent denial of policy and decision makers of the true cost of delivering dignified, person led, preventative care and support to older citizens across the country
  • The reality that the potential of health and social care integration is yet to be realised in Scotland and we continue to see the confliction of a health or social care workforce.
  • The reality that a largely unappreciated and undervalued social care workforce, delivering compassionate care to individuals with multiple complex mental and physical illness in their own homes, is at breaking point.
  • The reality that if we choose to do nothing, we will simply cease to have a social care sector.

Only by acknowledging these realities and working together to develop solutions in a meaningful way will we have any chance of developing a rights-based, dignified social care system for the tens of thousands of older people receiving care in their own home.

The 4R’s provides a structure and a foundation to work in partnership with employers, front line workers and stakeholders across the health and social care landscape to do something different, ambitious and brave – operationally and strategically; tinkering around the edges simply won’t suffice.

Let’s all of shut that door through which dedicated and skilled individuals are flooding out from, and create conditions where people stay, develop and thrive in the home care sector.

Please take time to read our report and watch our animation and do get in touch if you would like to find out more about our Workforce Matters project.


Katharine Ross

National Workforce Lead

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