Annual social care report reveals impact of pandemic

The latest report into adult social care serves as a “stark reminder” that sector bosses face “significant recruitment challenges” with vacancy rates steadily rising since the pandemic.

There's a shortage of care sector workersSkills for Care have published their annual report on ‘The State of the adult social care sector and workforce in England.’

The report, which is based on data provided by sector employers to the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS), shines a light on the significant impact that the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK has had on both the short- and long-term challenges faced within the sector.

Rise in care worker vacancies, turnover and absences

The data shows that, on average, 6.8% of adult social care roles were vacant in 2020-21, which equates to around 105,000 vacancies being advertised on an average day.

Vacancy rates have steadily risen in the sector since May 2021, when lockdown measures began to ease, and the wider economy started to open back up. By August, vacancy rates had reached their pre-pandemic levels.

The vacancy rate within the sector has remained high at above 6% for the previous 6 years, with turnover rates also persistently high, hitting 28.5% in 2020-21. Turnover did fall during the pandemic, but since March 2021, many adult social care employers have reported that staff retention is now more of a struggle than it was pre-pandemic.

For registered nurses in adult social care, the turnover rate stood at 38.2%, which is much higher than for their counterparts in the NHS (8.8%).

The issue has no doubt been exacerbated by a rise in staff absences, which have nearly doubled from an average of 5.1 days lost in 2019-20 to 9.5 in 2020-21.

Recruitment and retention struggles in care

The report shows that, since March 2021, filled posts have also fallen by around -1.8%. It represents the first time that the number of jobs (filled posts) has fallen in the sector, and as it is happening at the same time that vacancy rates are increasing, it indicates that care providers are struggling with both recruitment and retention.

Skills for Care says that it is important “to make a strong case that these jobs offer highly-skilled careers where you can progress to leadership positions.”

They say that listening to people who use care and support services can help recruiters understand what they want. They need to be supported by people who have the right skills to do so, and people who are trained and developed are then less likely to leave their roles.

Indeed, the report found that adult social care employers with “favourable workplace metrics”, such as high levels of learning and development, had lower staff turnover.

People want to be supported at home

The report also reveals that the steady shift from people receiving support in care homes to receiving support to live in their own homes has been accelerated by the pandemic.

Domiciliary care services were largely responsible for the 2.8% increase in jobs across the adult social care sector, with 40,000 additional jobs recorded within domiciliary care specifically – an increase of 7.4%.

At the same time, care home occupancy rates fell from 86% prior to the pandemic to 77% in March 2021.

Skills for Care says that reforms in the adult social care sector must recognise the desire for people to remain in their own homes.

Recognition and reward for care workers

Although the National Living Wage (NLW) has helped to boost the median nominal care worker hourly rate by 6% since March 2020, the report reveals that employers in the sector have found it more difficult to maintain differentials for more experienced workers.

Care workers with five years’ or more experience in the sector are currently being paid, on average, just 6p more per hour than those who have less than one year of experience.

Skills for Care says that social care is a growing market which currently contributes £50.3 billion to the nation’s economy.

They are now calling for the 1.54 million people who “worked tirelessly throughout lockdown” to be recognised and properly rewarded for their efforts.

They also highlight the fact that social care workers from a Black, Asian or minority ethnicity currently make up more than a fifth (21%) of the workforce. The workforce is also 82% female and almost a third of its members (27%) are aged over 55.

The workforce development charity says that the adult social care sector must embrace this opportunity to become an employer for all.

Skills for Care is committed to working with government and stakeholders across the sector on the upcoming whitepaper to develop a shared vision for a workforce “which enables people to live the lives they want, where they want.”

Creating a sustainable adult social care workforce

The CEO of Skills for Care, Oonagh Smith, commented:

“This report is a stark reminder that our recruitment challenges continue, and to help tackle that we need to properly reward and value care workers for their high skill levels and dedication. We know that this is a priority for the new Government White Paper expected on adult social care this year and look forwarded to seeing the measures contained.”

She added that the social care sector enables “people in our families, our friends and people in our communities to be supported to live the lives they choose. And the workforce in social care are the people that provide that support every day, in every single community.”

Creating a sustainable workforce is now a top priority for Skills for Care, but Ms Smith says: “[…] we know from speaking to employers that the pandemic has had a huge impact on people working in social care. The rich data from this authoritative annual report confirms this pressure, as well as showing us longer term trends in adult social care.”

One doctor told the BBC that a shortage of adult social care workers would have a knock-on effect on the NHS this winter.

Dr Owden, who worked in a hospital discharge ward at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, told the BBC that carers needed to be better paid, with a proper career structure and recognition of their skills. He said a better resourced system would relieve pressure from the NHS when they need it most.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson from the Department of Health and Social Care said they appreciated “the dedication and tireless efforts of care workers throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond,” and said they would be providing “at least £500 million” to support the workforce.

They added: “We are also working to ensure we have the right number of staff with the skills to deliver high quality care to meet increasing demands. This includes running regular national recruitment campaigns and providing councils with over £1 billion of additional funding for social care this year.”

You can download a copy of The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England report and an infographic showing all the key findings online.

Learning and development opportunities for care

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social care organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

Their course portfolio spans Care Certificate standards, Level 2 and Level 3 Awards and training for supervisors and managers.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“It is vitally important that the most vulnerable people in our communities can be provided with high quality, compassionate and person-centred care from the right people at the right time, in the right place.

“We need to recognise and reward the adult social care workforce to ensure this essential care and support is provided.

“There is evidence that providing proper training and further development opportunities can help to improve recruitment and retention issues for employers.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Skills for Care launch Day of Remembrance and Reflection

Skills for Care have joined with 20 other social care bodies in England to launch the new Social Care Day of Remembrance and Reflection.

Supported by the Department of Health and Social Care and the Minister of State for Social Care, Helen Whately, the memorial day will honour the work of the adult social care workforce throughout the Covid-19 pandemic and remember those who sadly lost their lives.

The first Social Care Day of Remembrance and Reflection will be held in March 2022.

Twenty-one organisations came together to launch the memorial day after the adult social care workforce experienced a particularly challenging 18 months.

It is intended to honour the tireless work and huge sacrifices made by social care workers during the pandemic as well as to remember the estimated 922 staff members who tragically lost their lives to Covid-19 between March 2020 and May 2021.

Tributes to remember care workers

Tributes to care workers can be shared on The Care Workers’ Charity website, where they have launched a dedicated Memorial Wall and Thank You Wall.

Care providers, care workers and those who use care and support services are also encouraged to honour the day through other activities, such as by planting a tree in honour of a lost care worker, holding a minute’s silence or creating a piece of art.

The CEO of Skills for Care, Oonagh Smith, said the workforce development charity was “delighted” to launch the Social Care Day of Remembrance and Reflection, which would thank social care workers for their crucial care and support.

She added:

“As we lead up to the day itself in March, we encourage those who work in social care, those who draw on care and support, and all members of the public to share their tributes to those people in the social care workforce who have had a positive impact on their lives and communities, through our online Memorial Wall and Thank You Wall.

“We look forward to marking the day in March – a day which is sure to be one of mixed emotions as we reflect on the vital contribution of the social care workforce during the pandemic and at all times, and we encourage as many people as possible to join in and ‘Remember Social Care’ on this day.”

Meanwhile, Helen Whately, Minister for Care, spoke of the “bravery of the social care workforce.”

She said:

“Our hearts go out to the families, friends and colleagues who have sadly lost loved ones and we will take this time to honour and remember them.

“We have worked to protect health and social care staff throughout the pandemic and we will continue to support them and their families in any way we can.”

Supporting adult social care through training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Care home residents are at higher risk from coronavirusTheir diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

First Response Training are a Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider for the delivery of classroom, e-learning and webinar training to the social care workforce.

As an Endorsed Provider, FRT have also recently been awarded grant funding to provide free Covid-19 Essential Training for adult social care workers, including Rapid Induction training for new starters, Refresher Training Programmes for existing staff and an exclusive Volunteer Training Programme for all volunteers in the sector.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“We know first-hand from the many organisations we work with that the social care workforce are hard-working and dedicated to providing high quality, safe and compassionate care for those they support. They have been through an incredibly challenging time and wholeheartedly deserve this recognition and thanks.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Half of frontline workers say job pressures are ‘out of control’

An 18-month long study into wellbeing within the emergency services has found that frontline healthcare workers are exhausted and at high risk of experiencing mental health disorders and burnout.

The detailed report from mental health digital platform 87percent.co.uk, entitled The State of Mental Wellbeing on the Frontline, reveals that almost 1 in 2 (49%) frontline workers find their work commitments to be “out of control”, while 61% feel tired most of the time.

Over 10,000 frontline workers were tracked from March 2020 to examine how the Covid-19 mental health crisis has impacted this vital and high-pressured sector.

Emergency services face mental health crisis

Key figures from the report reveal the mental health crisis erupting within the sector following a period of enormous pressure. These include:

  • 10% of staff have recently had suicidal thoughts
  • 45% have felt panic or terror
  • 49% have been distressed by unwanted images and memories
  • 33% have difficulty concentrating
  • 32% report regular symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • 40% are at risk of developing mental health disorders
  • 39% report feeling regularly frustrated by their work

The study found that the majority of staff (60%) had an extremely poor work-life balance, with paramedics, emergency nurses and physicians most likely to report this.

The majority of frontline workers also revealed that their job takes a significant toll on their physical and psychological wellbeing, with 65% saying it made it difficult to sleep, while 63% said it prevents them from being physically fit and healthy. Over half (53%) also reported that the pressures of their job make it difficult to relax.

The researchers are warning that frontline healthcare workers are at high risk of developing conditions such as chronic stress, which can lead to burnout.

Commenting on the report, the Medical Director of NHS Practitioner Health, Dame Clare Gerada, said:

“Within the NHS workforce, many report feeling defeated by work, and these challenges are still unaddressed. Now is the time to normalise rather than catastrophise this sector’s distress and reduce the burden of mental illness on those who care for us.

“Every member of this workforce should be given support, and we must make easy access to services a priority. This report is timely and adds to the evidence that a real and genuine focus on the mental health and wellbeing of this sector will have a positive impact for the national health service.”

Proactive policies needed to improve mental health

Meanwhile, 87percent.co.uk say that the data from their study will provide workers and employers with “the tools that are clinically proven to improve their mental wellbeing.”

They assert that digital solutions can give employers insights on the most effective strategies for supporting and boosting the mental health and wellbeing of their staff.

Their clinical director Doctor Serra Pitts, who is also an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society, says it’s vital that employers within the healthcare sector are proactive rather than reactive when it comes to managing mental health.

She explained that they can:

“[…] significantly improve the wellbeing of the frontline sector by having proactive policies that help to maintain work-life balance, access to wellbeing resources and expert-delivered training to equip leadership with the skills to understand the wellbeing challenges of their workforce.”

She added: “Crucially, technology can play a part in accurately measuring the mental fitness of workers and driving insights on the most effective wellbeing strategies for organisations. Tailored to their employees’ needs, these can significantly reduce the risk of mental health difficulties and help organisations thrive.”

Training solutions can support mental health

Mental health learning and development solutions can also play a significant role in helping managers, supervisors and frontline workers to recognise mental health risks and proactively support positive mental health and wellbeing across the workforce.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider delivering courses in subjects such as health and safety, first aid, fire safety, manual handling, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care, safeguarding and more.

They work with a large number of providers within the health and social care sector, from NHS services to national and local adult social care providers.

An accredited Mindful Employer themselves, FRT’s specialist mental health training courses include Understanding Mental Health, Mental Health Awareness in the Workplace, Managing Stress in the Workplace, Anxiety and Phobias Awareness, Self-Harm Awareness and Suicide Awareness.

They can also provide qualified, approved trainers to deliver accredited Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training courses, including the Adult, Youth and Lite versions.

A trainer from FRT says:

“Those working within the health and social care sector have dealt with immense pressure and sadness over the last two years, including changing guidelines, equipment shortages, overwhelmed services, staff shortages, isolation, illness and loss. They have been at the coal face of this pandemic the entire time. It’s not surprising that it has taken its toll on their mental health and wellbeing.

“It’s vitally important for those within this sector to receive mental health care and support, and for organisations to ensure that relevant mental health training is provided for staff.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Social care reforms to be announced

The Prime Minister is set to announce long-awaited reforms to the social care system in England today (Tuesday 7th September 2021).

Social care reforms to be announcedPrime Minister Boris Johnson is set to present his plans to reform social care in England to MPs and will also announce extra funds to help the NHS deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.

Later today, he will hold a press conference alongside Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi branded the upcoming proposals to overhaul the social care system as “truly historic and ambitious reform,” though some of the expected measures have already been widely criticised.

MPs criticise proposed NI hike

It is expected that Mr Johnson will announce a rise in National Insurance (NI) by around 1.25% in order to pay for the changes needed. The move means breaking a manifesto promise the party made during the 2019 general election.

Despite widespread acknowledgement that major changes are urgently needed within social care, the plans have faced opposition from some Tory MPs and criticisms from Labour, who say the proposed rise in NI will unfairly target young people and those on lower incomes.

It is now understood, however, that pensioners in work will also have to pay the new, so-called “health and social care levy” even though people of state pension age are exempt from NI payments.

Short and long term funding needed

Funding announced for health and social careAt the start of this week, the NHS was promised an extra £5.4 billion over the next six months to help tackle backlogs that have been made worse by the pandemic.

But the Prime Minister is also expected to tell the Commons today that more funds will be allocated to the NHS for the long-term in order to boost hospital capacity in England to 110% of its current level. In a statement he will tell MPs that the healthcare system has been placed under “enormous strain” and cannot “recover alone.”

It is not known how much money the social care sector will be promised upfront, with longer term funding expected to be “phased in”, though the PM is expected to say that his government will not “duck the tough decisions needed” to fix the country’s “broken” social care system.

It is anticipated that the NHS will be the primary benefactor of the NI rise in the short term, however.

Joyce Pinfield from the National Care Association commented that the social care sector needs funding in both the short and long term.

She explained: “We do need something immediately […] because most care providers are at breaking point.”

Social care system faces significant challenges

The social care sector does face significant challenges – and reforms have been promised, discussed and debated for some time, over successive governments.

Social care system needs fixingDuring 2019-20, local authorities received 1.9 million requests for social care support, an increase of more than 100,000 requests in five years. While the vast majority (1.4 million) were from older people, 560,000 requests came from working age adults.

Despite this clear rise in demand, total expenditure on adult social care has only risen by £99 million since 2010-11, with council spending in England about 3% lower than it was in 2010.

The growth in demand is in part due to an ageing population, and national charity Age UK estimates that 1.5 million people in England miss out on the help they need.

This issue is compounded by the fact that the social care system faces massive staff shortages. Age UK estimates that there are about 45,000 vacancies across the sector.

The fees that local authorities in England pay for care services can vary widely and people who don’t qualify for free care are often charged much more, with no current cap on costs.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) have previously called for long-term fundamental changes to the funding of adult social care.

They say:

“Social care needs fixing. Care staff shortages, acute staff retention challenges, a low remunerated workforce, an avalanche of need rising from the pandemic – these underlying issues will only be addressed with a clear Government long-term plan to reform social care, one that gives local authorities sustainable funding, direction and capacity to truly transform lives.”

It’s clear that changes are needed, but former Labour Health Secretary and current Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, believes that the proposed rise in NI is “unfair” and has suggested that ministers should ask all pensioners to make a contribution of 10% of their estate. This would then, he suggests, be topped up by a rise in other taxes, such as capital gains tax.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that they should look “to introduce the NHS principle to social care – everyone would be required to contribute, but everyone would benefit.”

Social care solutions vary across UK

The social care system is devolved across the four UK nations, so separate solutions can be developed by each government.

While in England social care is generally not free and there is no overall limit on costs, things vary across the UK.

In Scotland, personal care is free for those assessed by their local authority as requiring this support. Those living in a care home, however, do still have to contribute towards accommodation costs.

In Wales, some care costs are capped, while home care is free for those aged over 75 in Northern Ireland.

Training and support for social care system

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

FRT offer social care training and support

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

First Response Training are a Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider for the delivery of classroom, e-learning and webinar training to the social care workforce.

As an Endorsed Provider, FRT have also recently been awarded grant funding to provide free Covid-19 Essential Training for adult social care workers, including Rapid Induction training for new starters.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“Adult social care providers and workers do an incredibly important job, and it is essential that they are properly funded and paid so that everyone who requires care and support can access services that are safe, compassionate, person-centred and dignified.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Self-isolation exemption for care staff poses ‘significant risks’

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) has warned that a new exemption from self-isolation rules for double-jabbed care staff poses “very significant risks.”

In a press release, the directors’ body said the policy shift, which means that frontline adult social care staff who have received two doses of a coronavirus vaccine are not required to self-isolate after contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case, could bring further harm to those using services.

Changes to self-isolation guidance

The changes, which came into effect last month, mean that fully vaccinated care workers whose absence could cause significant risks to the health or safety of service users can continue to work even after being contacted by NHS Test and Trace or advised to self-isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app.

Such workers can only ignore self-isolation guidance if they have no Covid symptoms and have received a negative PCR test. They must also have daily negative lateral flow tests for the required self-isolation period.

Staff must also comply with all relevant infection control procedures and should not work with clinically extremely vulnerable people.

The organisation’s management should also ensure that a risk assessment is carried out and authorisation must be granted by its lead professional for health protection or the relevant director of public health.

If, at any point, the staff member receives a positive test or starts to experience symptoms of Covid-19, they must stop working and self-isolate fully.

Temporary measure to alleviate pressures in care

The government introduced the change in guidelines as a temporary measure before the introduction of a general exemption from self-isolation rules for all fully vaccinated contacts from 16th August. It has been brought in to relieve pressure on care services that were dealing with high levels of self-isolation as a result of rising infection rates.

However, ADASS has said that, while it supports measures to alleviate the immense pressures placed on care staff, it had “concerns that this announcement presents very significant risks,” during a period of high and rising community transmission rates.

The association pointed out that social care staff “work with people who are the most vulnerable to Covid: older, disabled and mentally unwell people, among others.”

They added:

“These are the very people, alongside care (and NHS) staff who have suffered most through the pandemic. Our priority must be to absolutely minimise further harm.

“Our concerns are magnified by the fact that there has been an immediate change in policy with no prior warning, guidance and information about the change and how this can be introduced safely. The policy is intended to be applied on a case-by-case basis, and with a full risk assessment, but the absence of information and guidance raises the risk of blanket applications.”

Calls for urgent guidance and funding

ADASS have called for urgent guidance and funding to support the new policy, while public service union UNISON raised concerns that some “reckless employers” may pressure staff who have had contact with a confirmed Covid case to return to work when it is not appropriate for them to do so.

Christine, McAnea, General Secretary, explained: “If care workers who’ve been in contact with someone with the virus are pushed back to work without proper safeguards in place, the consequences could be dreadful.

“Everything possible must be done to ensure staff in hospitals and care homes don’t bring in the virus or take it home. That includes making sure they are fully paid when sick or isolating.”

ADASS also reiterated their call for urgent, long-term, fundamental changes to the funding of adult social care:

“Social care needs fixing. Care staff shortages, acute staff retention challenges, a low remunerated workforce, an avalanche of need rising from the pandemic – these underlying issues will only be addressed with a clear Government long-term plan to reform social care, one that gives local authorities sustainable funding, direction and capacity to truly transform lives.”

Further support and training

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider.

They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Care workers have taken risks during the pandemicTheir diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of CareEquality, Diversity and InclusionUnderstanding Mental Health and many others.

First Response Training are a Skills for Care Endorsed Learning Provider for the delivery of classroom, e-learning and webinar training to the social care workforce.

As an Endorsed Provider, FRT have also recently been awarded grant funding to provide free Covid-19 Essential Training for adult social care workers, including Rapid Induction training for new starters.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“There is no doubt that the Covid-19 pandemic has taken a massive toll on health and social care workers and those who receive care and support services; they have been through so much and are still under tremendous pressure.

“Safe and sensible measures to help relieve this pressure and ensure everyone can receive the highest quality care and support are always welcomed, but it is important that the correct information, guidance and training is in place to safeguard health, safety and wellbeing at all times.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Skills for Care offers guidance on vaccination for care workers

Skills for Care is providing resources to help employers in the care sector to engage with their workers and provide guidance about wellbeing and Covid-19 vaccinations.

It comes as the government announced that they are planning to bring forward regulations that will make Covid-19 vaccination a condition of employment for those working in CQC-regulated care homes

The national workforce development charity says they understand that this policy will present a variety of challenges for care providers.

Variations in vaccine take-up

Data shows that there have been regional variations in vaccine take up across the care sector and Skills for Care acknowledges that there are many different views and opinions held by individuals working across social care organisations.

It is understood that the new regulations will apply to all individuals working in care homes in England that are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and which provide nursing or personal care. Certain medical exemptions will still apply.

The government are still planning to launch a further public consultation on whether or not to make Covid-19 vaccination a condition of deployment in healthcare and the wider social care sector.

If they come into force, the regulations will mean that care home providers can only deploy staff who have received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccination.

If the proposed regulations are approved by Parliament, there will be a minimum of a 16-week grace period before they come into force to provide care workers who have not yet been vaccinated with the opportunity to take up the vaccine.

Guidance for the care sector

During this challenging time, Skills for Care has grouped together vaccination guidance and advice from a number of sources to help aid employers in the care sector.

Care workers have taken risks during the pandemicTheir locality teams are also available to offer workplace support for local authorities and employers.

It is important to remember that the regulations will remain under review to ensure that they continue to reflect the latest clinical guidance.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and other special focus topics.

Their diverse portfolio includes training awards designed for health and social organisations, such as Infection Control and PreventionSafeguarding AdultsDuty of Care, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Understanding Mental Health and many others.

They also offer a portfolio of e-learning training courses, including COVID-19 Infection prevention, identification and control.

A trainer from FRT explains:

“This is a difficult issue for both care workers and employers. On the one hand, it is vitally important that vulnerable care home residents are kept safe and that they can be provided with high quality, compassionate and person centred care from the right people at the right time, without being placed at risk.

“On the other hand, vaccination is a personal choice and there are many reasons why someone may choose not to take up the vaccine or may be hesitant. The best that any organisation and any worker can do is to ensure they are properly informed, from credible, reliable sources, about the virus and vaccinations and that they are up to date with all key guidance and advice.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Skills for Care renews and expands its endorsement of First Response Training

National workplace training provider, First Response Training (FRT), has had its endorsement by Skills for Care renewed and expanded to also cover its e-learning and webinar training programmes.

The independent charity, Skills for Care, is a delivery partner for the Department for Health and Social Care and supports employers to develop best practice in the adult social care industry. Learning providers undergo a rigorous endorsement process to become recognised for their health and social care training programmes and feature on Skills for Care’s exclusive endorsed provider directory.

The stamp of approval – which means that FRT is recognised as one of the leading adult social care learning and development providers in the country – is renewed annually, with providers required to provide additional information and evidence to show how they have progressed against the original endorsement standards in order to retain the badge.

The renewal process has seen FRT become recognised for it’s online learning programmes in addition to its face-to-face, classroom-based training solutions.

FRT therefore remain listed on the Skills for Care site, as one of their recommended, high quality training providers, but now endorsed for their classroom, webinar and e-learning course provision.

The provider has been delivering e-learning and webinar training for a number of years but has significantly expanded and enhanced its online offering over the last 12 months, particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK and the limitations this has placed on face-to-face training opportunities. They now have an extensive catalogue of online health and social care training programmes, developed to meet the same standards as their classroom courses and with interactivity, flexibility and accessibility at the forefront of the design process.

Skills for Care states that “to become endorsed [a provider] must be able to clearly evidence that the training delivered makes a significant difference, not only to the learner but also to the person accessing care and support.”

Ryan Davis, Client Services Director at FRT, explained:

“We were impressed by the fact that the renewal process remained as thorough as the original endorsement process and appreciated that it enabled us to reflect on how we are continually building on and refining our services to meet the needs of our clients.

“The last year has been incredibly challenging for everyone, and the renewal process enabled us to take stock of the changes and adjustments we have made to ensure our clients could maintain high quality training programmes and continue to robustly support their workers and the people using their services through what has been a very difficult and scary time for the sector.

“I am proud that we have been able to retain our endorsement badge against this backdrop, and that we are now also recognised for our health and social care e-learning and webinar training services, which have proved invaluable to care providers over the last 12 months or more. It demonstrates our refusal to become complacent and that we have, as ever, continued striving for excellence.”

Learning and development is a crucial part of working in the social care sector. Those who have the right skills, provided through high quality training, deliver the best quality of care.

There's been an increase in domiciliary care jobsFRT support those working in adult social care by providing valuable training for the start of careers through to leadership positions and special focus training. They deliver over 4000 social care training courses a year.

Their health and social care course range is meticulously mapped to relevant standards, such as National Occupational Standards, CQC and Care Certificate standards and Skills for Health Core Skills Training Framework (CSTF) outcomes. All courses are underpinned with the values of person-centred care, dignity and compassion and support care workers to deliver high quality care that leads to improved outcomes for the people they support.

Managing Director at FRT, Amy Ridge, added:

“We are thrilled to maintain our Skills for Care endorsement for our classroom-based training, and are incredibly proud that FRT is now also endorsed for its e-learning and webinar training solutions. This demonstrates to care providers that, however they access training from us, they can be assured that it is of the highest quality and will make a meaningful difference to their staff and the people receiving their care and support.

“We are committed to monitoring and improving the long-term impact of our training and we collaborate with our clients to ensure that learning is embedded within their organisations.

“Everything we do – including over the last year – is ultimately driving towards our central vision of creating safer working environments with people who care. The renewal and expansion of our endorsement with Skills for Care serves to highlight our core values as an organisation.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300, or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Skills for Care helps develop new leading centre for social care

Skills for Care have announced that they will be partnering with the University of Birmingham to develop a new centre for adult social care.

The aim of the new IMPACT (Improving Adult Care Together) centre, which will be the first of its kind in the UK, is to put evidence into practice in order to promote and maintain people’s independence and wellbeing.

The centre will receive £15 million of funding over the next 6 years from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, and the Health Foundation.

Skills for Care and the University of Birmingham join a broader consortium of key stakeholders from across all four nations of the UK in order to develop the new IMPACT centre which will focus on:

  • Leading the way in helping people working in adult social care, carers, and the people they support to make better use of high-quality, practice-based evidence to support innovation in adult social care
  • Building capacity and skills within the adult social care workforce
  • Developing sustainable and productive relationships between all of those working across adult social care
  • Improving our understanding of what helps or hinders when putting evidence into practice

Skills for Care will be part of the leadership team for the new centre and will work with a wide range of academic, policy and practice partners as well as people who have lived experience of using social care services in order to help develop and lead a programme of innovation and improvement across the sector.

Care workers are key workersThe IMPACT centre will benefit from good practice examples and robust evidence from several different sources across the UK, including unpaid carers, adult social care workers and providers, experts in mobilisation and implementation of evidence, commissioners and policy experts and academic teams.

The IMPACT team will be responsible for agreeing priorities and designing, establishing, delivering and evaluating the Centre’s work programme, which is designed to lead to sustainable change in the way evidence is used within the sector.

Jon Glasby, Professor of Health and Social Care at the University of Birmingham, appointed as IMPACT’s Director, said:

“Adult social care touches people’s lives in such important and intimate ways, and it’s crucial that it’s based on the best possible evidence of what works.

“Good care isn’t just about services; it’s about having a life – and the ESRC and the Health Foundation are providing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a real difference.”

Meanwhile, the Programme Head for Workforce Innovation at Skills for Care, Jim Thomas, commented:

“Skills for Care is proud to be part of the sector-led partnership that created the IMPACT centre announced today.

“This centre is the first of its kind committed to putting evidence into practice to promote and maintain people’s independence and wellbeing.

“As part of the impact’s leadership team, we will be working closely to support employees to use the impact centres to work to improve workforce development opportunities. We will work closely with our partners in Skills for Care and Development to embed learning across the UK.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

Their health and social care range includes Moving and Assisting, Person Centred Care, Dignity in Care, Duty of Care, Safeguarding Adults and many more.

A trainer from FRT says: “It’s fantastic that this new centre is in development which will help care workers and providers to learn from good practice and put evidence-based research into practice to help improve outcomes for people using services.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Call to care campaign launches

The public are being urged to consider and apply for both short and long-term work opportunities in the adult social care sector as well as volunteer roles.

The Department of Health and Social Care have launched the next phase in their national recruitment campaign for the sector, which features television, digital and radio advertising aimed at increasing awareness of long-term career opportunities within adult social care.

In addition, the government is also urging people to register their interest in completing short-term paid work to support the sector during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The ‘Care for Others. Make a Difference’ campaign is part of the long-term recruitment drive and seeks to highlight the rewarding, varied and flexible roles available across the adult social care sector.

It aims to build a sustainable workforce for now and the future.

CQC publish annual state of care reportEmployers in adult social care can upload details of their vacancies to the DWP ‘Find a job’ platform. They can also access a number of resources, such as expert advice and templates, to run their own local recruitment activity and maximise the awareness generated by the national campaign.

The campaign website features a badging device, enabling employers to co-brand their own materials and link up with the national recruitment drive.

A campaign newsletter is available to keep people up-to-date.

Meanwhile, the ‘Call to Care’ campaign is targeting jobseekers, volunteers and furloughed workers to register their interest online for short-term paid work opportunities in adult social care.

The campaign has been launched in order to support care homes and home care services to meet additional staffing requirements during the remaining winter months.

It comes as absence rates have more than doubled across the workforce in recent months due to self-isolation requirements as the new Covid-19 variant makes its presence felt across the country.

Care workers have taken risks during the pandemicLocal authorities and local adult social care service providers will receive details of registrants so that they can contact candidates directly.

Exact roles available will be based on experience, local need and at the discretion of the local authority and local care providers.

Candidates will receive required training, such as in Infection Prevention and the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), be supported with DBS checks and will receive Covid-19 vaccinations in line with key worker status and the priority vaccine scheme.

The Minister for Care, Helen Whately, said:

“Since the pandemic began, we’ve seen thousands of wonderful people step forward to volunteer for the NHS and take part in our truly tremendous national vaccination effort. Today, I’m asking people to step forward to help in social care too.

“We need more people who want to play their part in this pandemic to choose social care. There are thousands of opportunities, from short-term roles to long-term careers.

“Jobs in the care sector are hard work, but they can also be incredibly rewarding. When you get home from work you know you’ve made a real difference for the people you care for. I know we can’t thank you to care workers too many times for what they do.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock also commented:

“I am urging the public – whether you are a jobseeker, or looking for a new career – to consider working in care.

“We need short-term support while we face the pandemic and to continue to recruit the right people with the right values, now and into the future.

“Great progress has been made on offering vaccines to all older care home residents and care home staff and this recruitment drive will help us continue to fight this terrible virus.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

Their health and social care range includes Infection Prevention and Control, Health and Safety, Dignity in Care, Duty of Care, Safeguarding Adults and many more.

There's been an increase in domiciliary care jobsA trainer from FRT says: “The adult social care workforce is full of dedicated, compassionate workers who are committed to supporting others to lead fulfilling, dignified lives.

“They deserve so much recognition for the hard work they’ve put in over the past 12 months – and the risks they’ve taken on – and it’s vital that they are supported as they continue to navigate the ongoing pandemic and the impact this has on staff numbers.

“Anyone new to social care must complete the Care Certificate standards and should receive further training in key topics to ensure they can provide high-quality care which is safe and person-centred.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Funding boost to support social care sector

The adult social care sector is set to receive a £269 million funding boost to help protect and support staff and those receiving care.

There's been an increase in domiciliary care jobsThe funds will be split, with a new £120 million fund to enable local authorities to boost workforce capacity and a £149 million grant system to support lateral flow device testing in the sector.

Announced in December 2020, this grant is designed to increase rapid Covid-19 testing of care staff and facilitate safe care home visits from loved ones, where possible.

It comes as the new, more transmissible coronavirus variant has led to a sharp rise in staff absence rates, as care home and home care staff test positive or are forced to self-isolate due to contact with a confirmed case.

Known as the Workforce Capacity Fund, the £120 million fund for local authorities is being made available to:

  • Provide additional care staff where shortages arise
  • Provide support for administrative tasks so that experienced and skilled care staff can focus on providing care and support for residents and those receiving care in their own home
  • Help existing staff to increase their hours, if they wish, through the provision of overtime payments or by covering childcare costs

Infection prevention and control guidance on staff movement in care homes is also being reinforced, with providers reminded that it is vital that they continue to follow the rules in order to keep staff and residents safe.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the fund would “bolster staffing numbers in a controlled and safe way, whilst ensuring people continue to receive the highest quality of care.”

He spoke of the hope offered by the vaccination programme, and explained:

“Many local authorities across the country already have staffing initiatives in place to increase capacity and address staffing issues. These include care worker staff banks where new recruits are paid during training, re-deployment models where DBS checked staff are trained and moved into operational roles, and end-to-end training and recruitment services.

“The £120 million fund will ensure such initiatives can continue, and help other local authorities implement similar schemes.”

Care workers have taken risks during the pandemicMr. Hancock added that the £149 million grant would support care providers with the costs associated with “setting up safe testing areas, providing staff training and will contribute towards staff time spent administering and receiving tests.”

Local authorities must pass on 80% of this funding to care homes on a per beds basis, with 20% able to be used at their discretion to support the sector in delivering additional lateral flow device testing.

Minister for Care Helen Whately praised care workers for “doing the most amazing job throughout the pandemic,” adding: “In challenging circumstances, they have been caring for some of the people most at risk from this virus with compassion and skill.”

She explained:

“Increased staff testing remains a critical part of reducing transmission. Care homes currently have access to 3 tests per week for their staff, with daily testing for 7 days in the event of a positive case to protect staff and residents.

“Care homes will have additional lateral flow devices to test individuals working in more than one setting before the start of every shift.

“Restricting staff movement remains critical to minimising the risk of transmission. In response to the government’s consultation, the sector called for an increase in staffing capacity instead of regulation to achieve this goal.”

Meanwhile, the CEO of Care England, Professor Martin Green, said they were “pleased” the government had listened to the care sector’s “deep concerns about banning staff movement.”

He added:

“We want to work with the department to ensure the staff capacity fund delivers to the front line and is suitably flexible to reflect the crisis whereby providers are struggling with staff illness and absenteeism in the same way as their colleagues in the NHS are.

“Staff are our most precious resource and we want to do all that we can to support them, especially in these incredibly difficult times.”

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

Their health and social care range includes Infection Prevention and Control, Health and Safety, Dignity in Care, Duty of Care, Safeguarding Adults and many more.

Care homeA trainer from FRT says: “We work closely with many local and national care providers and know that they have been having such an incredibly tough time during the Covid-19 pandemic in the UK.

“Those who work in care work incredibly hard to provide person-centred, dignified and compassionate care, even in extremely challenging circumstances.

“It is fantastic news that the sector will receive extra funds to help support and protect these dedicated workers and the people they work to support.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

Skills for Care investigates key issues affecting BAME workers

A recent survey from Skills for Care has found that adult social care workers from black, Aisan and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds face significant challenges with racism, progression, representation and health.

People from BAME backgrounds account for 1 in 5 of the adult social care workforce in England, but despite playing a crucial role in the care and support of people in our communities, they often encounter racism, discrimination and barriers to progression in the workplace.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also served to highlight and exacerbate existing inequalities within the workforce and wider society, and the survey aimed to capture how it has impacted on BAME workers in adult social care.

People from BAME backgrounds – whether providing or receiving care – have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic. They are more likely to contract Covid-19, are more likely to die as a result, and those in the workforce are more likely to report a lack of access to PPE and unfair treatment.

Skills for Care wanted to clarify the key issues and concerns affecting the sector, so they surveyed BAME leaders and managers across the adult social care workforce about the challenges they faced as a result of the pandemic.

Over 500 social care workers responded, and Skills for Care have revealed that these respondents spoke up about racism, inequality, progression, representation and health.

Three main challenges

Researchers found that 3 main themes came up when asking about the top challenges facing BAME staff in adult social care: racism; progression and representation, and; health issues.

Respondents cited institutional and systemic racism from and within organisations, management and peers and service users as a major challenge.

Workers from BAME backgrounds often felt that they did not have a voice within the organisations they worked for, and they frequently experienced discrimination and inequalities.

BAME staff also reported barriers that prevented them from progressing in the adult social care workforce, particularly into leadership and management positions. They experienced a lack of training and development opportunities and found that people from BAME backgrounds were not represented at senior levels.

There were also anxieties about the increased risks for BAME staff in relation to Covid-19, with respondents often reporting that they did not feel sufficiently protected at work.

Experiences of racism and anxiety about Covid-19 had also contributed to mental health concerns for workers from BAME backgrounds.

Respondents also cited issues regarding pay gaps, lack of confidence, lack of understanding and support and challenges around acceptance, recognition, respect and being valued.

Supporting BAME workers

Skills for Care asked respondents what they could do to better support adult social care workers from BAME backgrounds, and were told they needed to provide more training.

Covid is magnifying inequalitiesThis ranged from training for managers on the health risks posed by Covid-19 to training for BAME workers in topics such as leadership, resilience, assertiveness and dealing with racism, and training for all workers across social care on subjects such as cultural awareness, diversity unconscious bias and practising anti-racism.

Respondents also wanted greater inclusion; they asked Skills for Care to collaborate more with BAME communities in designing their approach, and to make their resources more accessible.

They also said that people from BAME backgrounds could be given a stronger voice at Skills for Care, with greater representation and more opportunities for discussion and engagement.

In terms of wider support to help them progress, respondents said that steps such as mentoring schemes, networking programmes and greater support for their health and wellbeing would help them reach their potential.

Promoting equality

They survey responses also showed that people wanted Skills for Care to undertake an advocacy role, promoting equality and fair pay across the sector.

Skills for Care also asked respondents about relevant topics they could cover in future webinars about inequalities within the BAME workforce.

Their areas of interest included racism, particularly institutional and systemic racism and how to overcome it, organisational policy and practice, equality and inequality, including pay and discrimination, progression and representation, and Black Lives Matter.

Taking action

Skills for Care are now investigating some of the areas of support raised in the survey.

They are organising a series of webinars starting this month to explore some of the issues raised by respondents and are developing a suite of guidance based on the three main challenges identified in the survey.

They’ve also highlighted some of their current resources, such as ‘Confident with difference’, which, they say will “allow you and your team to consider how well you currently embrace diversity and improvements that could be made.”

The workforce development charity will also work with a BAME focus group of 20 individuals to produce guidance and support for career progression.

They are also “exploring how we can embed what we learned across the organisation so that all aspects of our offer include and reflect the BAME community and diverse workforce. We will continue to engage with the sector to better understand support needs and this will be an ongoing dialogue.”

They’ve created a dedicated page on their website to provide a platform for voices from the diverse social care workforce and will continue to commission blogs and articles from BAME authors.

Training in equality, diversity and inclusion

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

Their health and social care range includes Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

A trainer from FRT says: “It is important for all organisations and businesses across all sectors to explore what they can do to challenge and remove inequalities and to promote equality, inclusion and diversity.

“We provide training in Equality and Diversity, and undergo it ourselves. We work to ensure that training is inclusive, representative and accessible to all.

“It’s great to see that Skills for Care have taken the time to do this research and that they are putting their findings into action.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

CQC publishes Covid-19 inpatient survey

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has published the results of it’s coronavirus (Covid-19) inpatient survey.

The key findings reveal that the majority of people were positive about their experience of hospital care during the first wave of the pandemic, but that those who were diagnosed with coronavirus did have poorer experiences than those who did not have the virus.

The survey included the views of more than 10,000 adults who were discharged from hospital during April and May 2020.

It found that those who received care and treatment for coronavirus had worse experiences in relation to:

  • Discharge from hospital
  • Knowing what would happen next with their care

The CQC also found that people with dementia or those living with a mental health conditions found some aspects of their stay in hospital more difficult.

The care watchdog carried out the survey in order to gather feedback that would help health services and local systems plan and make improvements for the delivery of future coronavirus care and treatment.

The survey included patients admitted with either confirmed or suspected coronavirus, as well as those admitted for unrelated reasons.

Survey respondents were asked about the quality of information they received and their interactions with staff, how well they were able to communicate with family and friends, the cleanliness of the hospital and their discharge arrangements.

The CQC noticed some key trends:

  • Feeling safe: Overall, 83% of patients said they felt safe from the risk of catching coronavirus in hospital. Those who were diagnosed in hospital felt least safe (68%), however, compared with those who did not receive a coronavirus diagnosis (84%).
  • Confidence in staff: 83% of patients said they ‘always’ had confidence and trust in the staff treating them. Over three quarters (77%) said they were involved ‘a great deal’ or ‘a fair amount’ in decisions made about their treatment and 7 in 10 people felt they ‘always’ received enough emotional support from staff.
  • Overall experiences: Patients who were diagnosed with coronavirus reported poorer experiences overall, and particularly in relation to discharge and accessing support following that.
  • Leaving hospital: Just under a third of people with coronavirus (32%) said they didn’t know what would happen next with their care when leaving hospital, and 29% believed that help from health and social care services after leaving hospital would have been ‘useful’, but they did not receive any.
  • Cleanliness: Most people (80%) reported that their room or ward was ‘very clean’ and the majority also recalled seeing a range of infection control measures, such as staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), handwashing and cleaning of surfaces. Fewer people reported seeing social distancing measures in place, such as markers on the floors or relevant signage.
  • Contact with family and friends: Three quarters of people surveyed said they were ‘often’ able to keep in touch with loved ones during the pandemic, but 13% said they didn’t get the help they needed to do so. Patients with a sensory impairment, learning disability or a mental health or neurological condition, or older patients, were less likely to feel that they’d been able to maintain regular contact with family or friends.
  • Communication with staff: Some patients found communicating with staff who were wearing PPE particularly difficult. People aged 85 or over, or patients with autism, dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, patients who were deaf or hard of hearing and those with learning disabilities were most likely to struggle to understand what they were being told.

The CQC’s Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: “The positive experience reported by many people surveyed reflects the tremendous efforts of hospital staff at a time of unprecedented pressure.

“As winter approaches and the ongoing challenge of coronavirus remains, it is crucial that we use the results to identify any action that can be taken to help maintain safety, drive improvements in care and tackle inequalities going forward.

“Disappointingly, the results show that for some people the process of leaving hospital and accessing support after was not good enough, particularly for those in hospital with coronavirus. This mirrors the findings of a recent report by Healthwatch England and The British Red Cross.

“Previous CQC inpatient surveys have repeatedly shown discharge and access to onward services as an area where greater improvement is needed. The increased pressures that responding to the pandemic has placed on health and social care has brought the issue into sharp focus.

“More needs to be done to ensure people are fully supported when leaving hospital and when they return home with a clear join-up between hospital, community and primary care. This can only be achieved if all parts of the health and care system come together and local leaders support services to work collaboratively to build capacity to respond to the needs of their area.”

A summary of the survey results can be found on the CQC’s website.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading, national training provider. They deliver over 7,000 courses each year in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, mental health, health and social care and more.

Their health and social care range includes Infection Control, Health and Safety, Personal Care, Safeguarding Adults, Dementia Awareness, Duty of Care, Dignity in Care and many more.

A trainer from FRT says: “With coronavirus likely to remain a feature of the health and care landscape for a little while yet, it’s good that the CQC has obtained these insights that can help services plan, adjust and deliver high quality care.”

For more information on the training that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300 or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.