Last year, we at Prestige Nursing + Care carried out research to examine the scale of this shortage and found that one in five councils in the UK is unable to find a care provider to cover all care requests and must resort to using expensive in-house care to cover the work. The number of hours worked by carers has also increased by 1.9% from 2012-2013, indicating that workers are already overstretched as council cuts and failure to recruit more people impacts on them.
By 2030, the over-65 population will have increased by almost half, from 11.4m to 16.1m. That’s another 4.7m people. Yet the working population will only increase by 514,000 over the same period. We found that the number of carers has fallen by 10,000 (or about 1.4%) since 2009, a trend which if it continues would result in 48,500 fewer workers by 2030. As the number of older people in the UK increases and life expectancy soars, so will the number with dementia and the percentage that require care, demonstrating the escalating nature of this problem.
One main source of the problem is inadequate pay rates from councils, especially given the demanding nature of the job. Care workers choose their profession in order to help people but they need to be sufficiently rewarded for the work they carry out. Attitudes need to be adjusted and the value of carers reassessed: councils and employers must adhere to minimum wage legislation and ensure that carers are paid for travel time, while more workers could be attracted to the sector by promoting training and career prospects. There have also been calls for more men to join what, up until now, has been a largely female dominated sector, which would widen the recruitment pool substantially.
Only by addressing this chronic shortage of care workers now will we be able to prevent an impending crisis from occurring. Without a long-term solution, the UK’s ability to take care of a large part of its population could be irrevocably damaged with ramifications for generations to come.
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What concerns you most about growing older and why?
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