As someone who has used care agencies, my biggest frustration was that I never knew from one day to the next who was going to show up. As a carer my biggest frustration was that I never knew where I was going to be working from one day to the next. The reason for this was always staffing problems.
So why is it so difficult to recruit and retain care workers?
1) The pay is crap. Here you are in a position of responsibility and yet you’re paid little more than minimum wage. You’d be better paid as a cleaner.
2) You are treated like wonder woman, expected to get from one side a town to another which means you are invatiably late for calls and of course you are front line when somone is unable whilst the managers sit in their nice offices ignoring the calls;
3) Mandatory checks and training are a real hassle;
4) You are with the client day in day out and no one ever asks for your opinion;
5) you end up working overtime as the agency takes on more and more work without successfully taking on any more carers.
Now I could probably add to this list but that’s a good start. Another thing i’ve discovered is just how difficult it is to get into carework. The work is there and in many areas there are horrific shortages. There are agencies recruiting constantly BUT with the cost of mandatory training and CRB checks it’s very difficult for the unemployed to get work in the sector.
I have a solution to this – run a professional registration scheme like OFSTED, provide funding for local authorities to run training courses and provide free CRB checks for people becoming care workers. I know so many people who are put off when they find out that they are going to have to pay in advance for a CRB check with no guarantee of a job at the end of it. It’d also prevent the madness of having to get a different CRB check for multiple agencies – even if you’re working for the same local authority!
I hate how social workers will come in an make a decision having met someone once. I think we need to make better use of senior care staff and create a role where someone independent goes and works with a family for a week and produces a report for social workers to use. That person could also support families to make small changes and care could be better tailored to their needs.
This is just my view but even if people don’t agree with my ideas I think we can be sure of one thing, things need to change because the system isn’t working for anyone.