The Problems of Care Worker Recruitment and Retention - One Possible Solution

08 March 2019

Problem One

The turnover on care workers entering and leaving the profession is often quoted as around 28% per year with some residential care homes experiencing a much higher turnover.

Problem Two

There is an increasing number of older people who will need to be cared for therefore increased recruitment and retention of care workers in the profession is paramount.

Addressing the first problem, why do care workers leave?

One theory is that it is all too easy to enter the profession. Many care providers offer training of a few days with work promised for the following week. Online training courses are widely available, with at least one organisation simply stating that if you fail, you just sit there and take the ‘exam’ again until you get the required past mark.

Such care workers who train this way will find the reality of the work does not fit with the ideas that they had about what caring involved. As a result, many find in the first few weeks they are out of their depth; they become stressed; they are asked to provide support they are not capable of; pressure is put on them by their care agency to do more shifts and the whole idea of caring becomes non-desirable and other jobs are available, many paying better.

The second problem can only be solved by a huge increase in the number of care workers, so where can these care workers come from?

There are many kind, potential carers out there who, in 2019, are not deemed to be professional enough to be paid care workers. These people would not consider that training was sitting in front of a DVD for a few hours, sitting in front of a computer and ticking boxes after reading a page of A4 to gain a certificate or to take other training over a time period of several months.

These are usually mature men and women who have great capacity to care. They have cared for their family members or been volunteers in a neighbourly, caring capacity. They could not care for people with complex needs but could offer, with reduced practical training, their services to people who have low or moderate care needs. Currently, reduced training certification is not a recognised option. The irony is that if they had a relative who was being discharged from hospital and they told the social worker that they would provide the care required at home, then the offer would be accepted within 10 seconds!

There is an urgent need for these capable, empathetic, kind, people to be attracted into the profession. Ask any older person who is seeking care support the question of whom they would like to care for them, and many older people will answer, ‘a mature person, someone who has seen some of the life I have lived through, who is kind and has common sense’.

The problems will not be solved by one new initiative but by many smaller answers and I offer the above as one of them.