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‘Significant challenges’ continue in recruiting and retaining care workers across Nottinghamshire

Recruitment and retention for care workers in Nottinghamshire continue to face “significant challenges” as the county council struggles to retain staff in the sector.

The county’s social care market is operating with a staff turnover rate of about 30 per cent as people leave the sector to join other areas like shop work on better pay.

Earlier this year, Nottinghamshire County Council approved a £1 per hour uplift to care providers to incentivise people to stay in the sector.

This uplift came into effect last month.

And work has been taking place with education providers and job fairs have been held to encourage more people to take up a career in care.

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However, the authority says it continues to face pressures and expects further workforce issues this winter as capacity problems within care homes continue to impact hospital discharges.

Speaking in the adult social care and public health select committee on Thursday (October 6), councillors and council officers discussed the issues facing the authority.

Kashif Ahmed, service director for integrated strategic commissioning and service improvement, said: “Recruitment and retention is a significant challenge within the care sector due to the wider challenges in the economy.

“In recent weeks and months the system has stabilised and providers are able to meet their obligations to support people.

“However, it’s unpredictable and we’re heading towards winter when we expect further challenges in the workforce.

“Recruitment and retention is one of the key points for us but what we haven’t seen is a growth or increase in capacity, so providers struggle to recruit and they tend to lose staff to other sectors.

“That’s been a consistent feature and it’s not isolated to Nottinghamshire – most local authorities are facing these difficulties in the care sector.”

The meeting also heard how job fair events have been held and are planned to get more people into the sector locally.

This includes an event at Mansfield Town Football Club on Thursday (October 6) where care providers were in attendance advertising current roles and vacancies in the sector.

The authority also plans to work with schools and further education providers to offer a route into care, offering incentives and support for future care workers to help fill gaps in the workforce.

Melanie Brooks, the council’s corporate director for social care and public health, added: “We have 24,000 care workers and, at the moment, we think we’ve got around a 30 per cent turnover, so the volume of people leaving and joining are immense.

“We are starting to work more closely with further education colleges to create a pathway and we need to look at selling care as a career.

“It is a career of value and I don’t think that pathway is sold.”

Local authorities nationally continue to await Government guidance on how future social care reforms will be funded.

One of the key issues on the reforms is a ‘Fair Cost of Care’ review, which could see the authority increasing the amount it pays providers per hour by about £3.50.

This reform is anticipated to cost the county council £41.57m to deliver but the authority expects to only receive about £8.82m from the Government, leaving a funding gap of £32.75m.

And Councillor Matt Barney (Con), portfolio holder for adult social care and public health, says he will continue to press for extra support even if it gets him kicked out of his own political party.

He said: “We’re all in this together and we’re making those arguments to our own administration and the Conservative Party.

“We’re doing what we can and we’re not going to tell lies – we’re telling the truth because it’s people’s lives that matter here, not politics.

“It’s always going to continue to be my stance even if it gets me kicked out of my own party because I want to be honest about these things.”

On plans to increase recruitment and retention in care, he added: “Being involved in social care and making a difference in people’s lives has a social benefit. There’s great value in any young person’s life.”

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