Posted: Thursday 7th September 2017
Like other local authorities up and down the country, Hertfordshire are facing up to the challenges of reduced Government funding and increased demand for our adult social care services.
We’ve all read the headlines about the aging population and need for hundreds and thousands of additional care home beds in the next 20 years – the situation is very real, as a country the UK is facing what could be one of the greatest challenges of our time; doing nothing is not an option.
In Hertfordshire the challenges are no different. One of the main difficulties we face is recruiting and retaining people in our care industry. The impact of not having enough people working in care is both significant and costly. We know that this has a knock on effect on the NHS, causing increased numbers of delayed discharges from hospitals into care homes and meaning that people who need a care service can’t always get the support and care they deserve at home quickly.
In Hertfordshire we have created Good Care Hertfordshire, our campaign to recruit people into care and to raise the profile of the wonderful work undertaken day in, day out by our 29,000 strong care workforce. At the heart of the campaign are the Hertfordshire Care Standards; our promise to make things better for people working in care, these include:
- Paying a competitive wage – in practice this has meant paying the care organisations we commission enough for them to provide more than the national living wage to their staff.
- Paying the home care workers who work for our lead home care providers an additional 70p per hour, funds taken from the social care precept element of residents council tax
- Paying for travel time between visits, travel expenses, sick and holiday pay
- Introducing childcare payments to support people with children to work during school holidays
- Providing real opportunities for training and career progression in the sector
Alongside the traditional barriers to employment like poor public perception and negative press, Hertfordshire has very low rates of unemployment. We’re competing directly with the NHS, the retail sector and other growing industries in Hertfordshire like the service sector. We need to fill these vital care roles, so helping people to understand what the different jobs in care involve and getting across the great job satisfaction this brings is essential.
We estimate we need an additional 2,000 care practitioners in the county each year. That’s 1,000 to meet increased demand from our ageing population and 1,000 to replace the people leaving the sector. We’re lucky to work alongside Hertfordshire Care Providers Association (HCPA) on our Good Care campaign. HCPA represent our independent care providers, providing them with training and advice and importantly recruitment support – in fact we have a dedicated ‘Good Care’ recruitment manager tasked with encouraging more people into the sector.
Finding initiatives and solutions to alleviate some of the pressures on the social care system requires close partnership working with our NHS health colleagues and the voluntary sector. We have some great schemes including using the latest Telecare monitoring technology to support people better to live independently at home, asking our Fire and Rescue Service to carry out ‘safe and well’ visits with residents and using Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS) workers to prompt people to take their medication on meals on wheels visits. But we always need to do more.
Without care practitioners the whole health and social care system will collapse. By investing in our care workforce, we expect to see results down the line, with skilled care practitioners able to deliver high quality care at home to keep people out of hospital. Similarly in care homes, well trained staff will have the skills to deal with a wider range of issues rather than calling 999.
Anyone interested in the caring career opportunities available in Hertfordshire can visit www.hertsgoodcare.com where they’ll find helpful information about the types of roles available, current vacancies, training and support to help you understand, prepare and apply for a rewarding and diverse career working in care.
Iain MacBeath is Director of Adult Care Services at Hertfordshire County Council