Tag Archives: skills

Workforce retention?

Richard Banks looks ahead to this year’s Skills for Care conference where the focus will be on recruitment and retention of the social care workforce.
David Mowat MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care, voted as did most Conservative MPs, against guaranteeing EU citizens rights to stay in the UK ahead of the ‘Article 50’ negotiations. If passed the amendment would have ensured that all EU citizens legally living in the UK on 23 June 2016 (the date of the EU referendum) would have their right to stay and work protected.
Across the UK EU nationals comprise around 4.95% of the staff in NHS trusts and Clinical Commissioning Groups, and 5% of the UK social care workforce[1]. In England, there are 1.43 million people in the social care workforce[2]The Cavendish Coalition[3]estimate that there are 90,000 EU nationals in employment – this is around 7 % of social care workforce. [4]
So, 90,000 people working in England in social care are now uncertain of their future as social care workers and as residents, along with their families, of the UK.  Horrible for them and how can any of us imagine how we might reassure our relatives supported and cared for by these people?
The social care sector in England has difficulty in recruiting and retaining staff; there are about 90,000 job vacancies[5].  All indications are that the need for increased levels of social care support will require a continued growth in the workforce.
Dodging responsibility
Respect and support for the social care workforce might be the least one might expect from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Community Health and Care sadly this has not been the case.  Recently, in attempting to dodge responsibility for the Government’s social care funding crisis, David Mowat blamed uncaring families. In doing so he not only insulted families but also implied that social care was an unskilled occupation that any family member might do.  With the EU amendment vote last week he went further and completely dismissed the importance of 90,000 social care staff.
So, it will be interesting to hear what messages David Mowat will have when he speaks at the Skills for Care Conference entitled Recruitment and retention: the road to success (Thursday 9 March in Liverpool).  Social care conference participants are remarkably unmoved by banal government representatives (almost as if they expect no better). Let’s hope that on this occasion David Mowat can explain how he has a plan to support social care recruitment and retention. He might even manage to show some respect for the social care workforce who surely are an example for the Conservative slogan of being for ‘hard working people’ 

[1] researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/LLN-2016…/LLN-2016-0039.pdf
Of the overall percentage, the detailed breakdown shows geographical variances:
·         22,000 staff in London – 12% of workforce;
·         23,000 in the south east – 10% of workforce.
·         There are a higher proportion of EU nationals in regulated professions, e.g. nursing, than managerial posts.
[5]Skills for Care 2017 Conference information

Social care work – at the butt end of downward mobility

Vic Citarella postulates that investment in the social care workforce will improve social mobility

One factor that contributes to divisions or unity between people is the nature of the labour market. Work features large in how we see ourselves and how others see us and our families. It is integral to our identity. It is about the pay-off from hard work that politicians talk of when they use the language of social mobility. They usually mean better paid and more secure jobs lead to the \’good things\’ in life. It is those jobs that enable mobility and which, for politicians, can only go one way – upwards. When people identify themselves as downwardly mobile, it is then that they get angry and lash out at governments, officialdom, the establishment, outsiders and eventually each other. When a majority of people who perceive themselves as downwardly mobile are given any plebiscite the result is predictable. In the case of the referendum on membership of the EU an outcome exacerbated by the perceived comparative upward mobility of many immigrant workers. 
My understanding is that employment in the UK post the crash of 2008 is strong and has recovered. Today, after the recent turmoil, there remain a growing number of work opportunities and a shortage of applicants in many sectors. However my view of the labour market is of one that has polarised in many parts of the UK. Polarised between the low paid, low skilled often temporary and part-time workforce and the higher skilled and permanent, full-time workforce. The former characterised by the largely female social care workforce and the latter by ICT professionals. Jobs and opportunity in the middle range of skills and reward are evaporating – in manufacturing, construction and critically the more clerical professions. The consequence is that workers have to set their sights higher or accept supposed lower status work. 
Such divergence in the labour market is one root of the current discontent and in my view social care is at the butt end of it. Much of social care is seen as unpleasant work, poorly paid and not requiring skills. It is viewed as work for women and girls not worthy of more than minimum pay. Social care – along with flipping burgers, waiting tables, cold-calling and stacking shelves – is what the displaced workforce in the middle, who are unable to attain higher, see before them and they don\’t like it. They recognise themselves as being downwardly mobile and will vote accordingly in their droves.

The current social care workforce is upwards of 1.5 million and the demand will soon exceed well over 2.0 million people. This is a significant number and nearly doubles when the NHS equivalents are added in. This is not work that can easily be automated or undertaken off-shore like much clerical work. It is work that requires hands-on skills, heart in the right place attitudes and an astute awareness of context and circumstances. In short it is not low skilled work at all but, nonetheless, has the low skills status. It therefore seems to me that there is a win-win for the country in a concerted effort to up the status of social care work. A first win in that we have the workforce that befits all our aspirations for ourselves and our families that need social care. Our willing dependency on family care would be supplemented, enhanced and supported instead of stretched to breaking point. A second win in that the schism in the wider labour market is repaired as people increasingly seek social care employment as a route to upward mobility. Having social care jobs with status, reward and recognition will go a long way towards reconciling social discontent. There is a third win around the reliance of some social care employers on an immigrant workforce – their contribution would be valued at the same time as the dependency reduced. 

How does a country boost the standing of a workforce you may ask? 

  • Political leadership – lets have a Department of Health and Social Care with a minister to make real the paper policies of integration
  • Professionalisation – lets demand a social care workforce that is competent, qualified and aspirational
  • Personalisation – lets either commit fully to a consumer/user-led approach to the social care market or parallel the NHS with a National Care Service as suggested in 2009. The alternative is that market forces will entrench a two tier workforce. The privately funded care workforce having just low status over the very low of the publicly funded one.
  • Pay – lets be honest and openly evaluate the rewards allotted to a care worker in respect of what they do. Lets challenge traditional job evaluation criteria that determine pay rates.
  • Prices – let the market do its work and limit the local authority to inducing variety and policing local standards. We could move more rapidly towards a position where a local authority only makes the social care purchases when they have permission from the Court of Protection. Otherwise the actual purchase is undertaken directly by the customer or their agent albeit, in full or part, with public money.
  • Public relations – lets get more media savvy about working in social care.
One way or another this will cost the service user more money in fees. Government will need to do more than the current tinkering around the edges that has gone on since at least 1990 when the country moved decisively away from a municipal model of social care provision. It will need to pull levers and apply brakes. The cost to us all will either be more tax or different use of current taxes. The incentives though are substantial:
  • People being able to purchase a safe social care service at transparent levels of quality and affordable price
  • Protection for those lacking capacity
  • A motivated workforce recognised for its skills
  • Social care work as a badge of upward mobility and a unifying force in communities. 
The time is right for the social care workforce to move from butt end to front end of labour market thinking. If not we are destined to have a social care workforce that churns within itself, is riddled with self-deprecation and is scorned by the upwardly mobile. It will remain at the wrong end of an unequal society to all our detriment.

Vic Citarella and Debbie Sorkin Muse on Systems Leadership

Everyone has a system they favour, while it seems we all like to discuss a system. Plus, we all seem to know a better system then the one being used!

But joking aside, systems thinking is applicable in all walks of life and is the basic stuff of leadership. Here are our top ten systems thinking tips, we hope you find them useful:

1. Follow the money‘Make the money do all the work’ is a timeless truism (and may explain why good betting ‘systems’ are probably the systems most written about!)

2. Pass and move quicklyShort passes are often best; they really help build towards a goal – thus the Liverpool (FC) Groove and it works. Systems are made up of good habits that you repeat

3. Know when to get out of the wayHeroic leadership may not be in vogue right now, but the hallmark of a top person is someone who stands aside at the right time, in the right way and because it helps the system work well

Stevie Gerrard’s Homework

4. Understand place and spaceThere’s a time and place for everything; an observation that leads to real understanding of how systems work. In business they say never take your eye off the ball, but in systems it is what happens in the spaces ‘off the ball’ that matters as well…

5. Look good, but be effectiveSay no more – we all know what we are talking about here. Don’t be taken in by appearances and check the system does what it says on the tin

6. Always have a ‘Route One’ up your sleeveA system that gets the results in the most direct way is often a welcome option. Know the pitfalls

7. Put the time in to training and preparationSystems work best when they are looked after; true ‘fitness for purpose’ involves skills and leadership coaching

8. Always a marathon, never a sprintExcept when it’s not – always worth challenging a cliché. Horses for courses is your watchword here

9. Stick by your team-matesIn the world of systems we are all leaders and our behaviour as team members is critical

10. If all else fails – sack the managerSadly, even the most effective systems break down sometimes. Scapegoating rarely works, but systems which anticipate problems, learn from mistakes and plan leadership succession are a good bet to follow.

Why don’t you now help us by telling us what systems you participate in – and do you have any hot tips?

Mentoring – a personal support to Registered Managers

Richard Banks (CPEA Associate) reflects on developments from the Skills Academy

Tuesday 17th September a meeting called by the National Skills Academy for Social Care to think through how mentoring might be part of how Registered managers are supported. Mentoring has been a successful part of number of leadership programmes and in particular schemes for black and ethnic minority managers.

It was helpful to check the differences between a number of related methods of supporting managers such as supervision, coaching and counselling. Throughout the meeting we returned to the sad reality that many Registered Managers get little or no proper support and that any fine differences between methods such as mentoring and coaching would be difficult for them to get concerned about.

Not magical

However there is no doubt that Registered Managers, who often report a sense of isolation and difficulty in gaining perspective on their life, would find mentoring helpful. Mentoring may be described as where a person can ‘take part in a voluntary mutually beneficial and purposeful relationship in which an individual gives time to support another to enable them to make changes in their life or work’ (Mentoring and Befriending Foundation). As with other proposed improvements we will need to incorporate it into whole system thinking. Certainly we will need to avoid that tendency, too often held in social care, which introduces a single improving component as offering magical solutions to the wide and complex needs of our sector.

That whole system question remains how we act to establish the entire social care workforce including Registered Managers as respected professionals that are properly remunerated. It was rather disappointing that the recent Cavendish Report on the health and social care work force did not extend its remit and recommend action on registration. Professional registration alone would not create the needed improvements for the social care workforce but it would be an important component of that change. As is being found in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland where registration is being planned for and being introduced. An important part of registration is the use of a code of conduct that covers both the individual staff member and the expectation on employers to provide supervision and management support. Cavendish did make a recommendation on this; saying the ‘Department of Health must review the progress of the social care compact: and substitute a formal code of conduct for employers if a majority have not acted upon it by June 2014’. Progress is being made here, lead by Skills for Care, with www.thesocialcarecommitment.org.uk

Personal compatibility

The Skills Academy will progress thinking about the use of mentoring and I hope the sector will assist in supporting that work. It particular helping to prevent the potential of mentoring being constrained or over burdened by setting training requirements, endless consideration about who might be allowed to do it and unnecessary bureaucracy. There was debate at the meeting on how far a mentor from outside of the sector could assist a Registered Manager. Given the need for social care to engage with the general public I would urge that opportunities to look outside the sector ought to be actively considered. The over riding issue should be the compatibility of the two people and the capacity to bring new ideas and different perspectives. One way to think about this would be to apply the ideas of personalisation. All the reasons why personalisation is a good thing for those people we support apply in similar ways to mentoring. Registered Managers can identify just what sort of support they want, when is the right time and the sort of person they could trust with their hopes and fears.

Breakfast with the National Skills Academy for Social Care at NCVO

Richard Banks of CPEA Ltd and SCA

About 15 participants – care home training staff, owners and a few consultants plus Charlotte Tuck a communication person from DH enjoyed an educated breakfast at NCVO this week. All the (non-edible) materials for the session can be found at www.nsasocialcare.co.uk

This was one of two NSA member events (another is scheduled in Sheffield on 30th October) to:

  • Update on the social care climate
  • Report on the survey of Registered Managers – ‘Everyday Excellence’
  • Inform about the ‘Careship’ programme on leadership and registered managers with different descriptions aimed at different roles with in sector
  • Report on research for NSA on care sector reputation – ‘Who cares’
  • Advise on integration thinking with Skills for Care

Sir Stuart Etherington (CEO NCVO) provided a welcome to building and a summary of the environment for the charitable sector. After what might, in hindsight, be regarded an a era of growth the charitable sector he said it was now suffering from reduced giving related to recession and cuts in contracting as public sector reduce costs. Ideas of government about the ‘Big Society’ appear to have gone but he thought they did encompass hopes for increase in social investment, localism and public sector reform. The response of the charitable sector has been more mergers and a focus on core or particular successful areas of work. Sir Stuart acknowledged that the charitable sector were often pressed into contracting for poorly considered care services whereas good social enterprises had access to start up funds to support more radical redesign of services. He expressed a belief that the definitions between charities, social enterprise and public interest were getting blurred in people’s minds if not in legal status. He remarked on the success in changing government proposals that would have damaged tax on contributions.

Debbie Sorkin reminded us of demographic demand and that mismatch with public funding quoted David Behan ‘austerity is the new real’ and Clive Bowman ‘social care is being brutalised’
She thanked SCA for support on pointing out the need to focus on registered managers and introduced the report. NSA response is to support registered managers to overcome defensive practice (illustrated by a story about therapeutic use of pets being banned from a home after a dog tripping incident which caused no harm) and develop links into networks. Marcia Asare will be in charge of registered manager activity for NSA.

Discussion was about poor inspection practice on nutrition, lack of leadership from government but mostly focused on the positive ideas of networks for managers. Some interest was vocalized on ideas about registered managers as local resources (information on issues of ageing for example) but main focus was on dealing with isolation of managers and providing a source for sharing and gaining thoughts on good practice.