Skills For Care adult social care workforce report: Is it possible to look on the bright side?

Resident and support worker in red aprons getting ready to cook
Working in social care is varied and rewarding

Today I attended the launch of Skills For Care’s annual workforce data report. We were invited to think about how we can use the data in the report to tell the Social Care Story in positive ways. Given that the number of vacant posts are the highest on record, have increased by 52% and are running at twice the national average, this is not the easiest ask, but I think it was right for Skills for Care and the panellists to encourage us to focus on ways we can use the data to find and tell positive stories.

As a society, of course we must help people to connect with how rewarding it can be to work in social care services. When colleagues talked about this during the report launch, I found myself remembering working in an upstairs office in a service that supports people with profound and multiple learning disabilities. Every day, I listened to the laughter and singing that floated up from downstairs and it used to make me stop what I was doing often and long enough to learn to distinguish the different singing voices of the support workers. To this day, I’ve yet to hear people enjoying being at work as much as this team, and it never surprised me that they were also really good at their jobs, were resilient when it came to dealing with things that they did not enjoy and were loved by the families of supported people.

During today’s launch meeting, we spent time thinking about the things that people value in their work, the things that are important to them and the things that matter less than we sometimes think they do. Predictably enough, the discussion followed Hertzberg’s Theory of Motivation almost to the letter. It struck me as odd that despite the fact that this was all documented decades ago, we’ve had so little success in our efforts to use Hertzberg to attract and retain staff in social care settings.

Perhaps the reason relates to another psychology theory, Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maybe it is hard for people to connect with the motivational factors of achievement, recognition, responsibility and personal growth when the income they receive does not allow them to move fully past the basic human survival concerns of food, shelter and overall health. What do you think?

Clive Parry, ARC England Director

If you’d like to discuss this or any other social care and learning disability topics, please get in touch with Clive at [email protected]