How to get more people into social care careers: Kirsty Page

Health and social care is a jigsaw and requires GPs, hospitals, other health and social care professionals and carers all working together to achieve the same goal. Yet one of those roles is less valued than the others.

A job in care demands equivalent knowledge, skills and values to those professions yet it seems to be given a different weighting and a career in my sector is not as desirable as being a nurse or a social worker. Why is that?

What strikes me the most is the reputation of care versus health and other social care professionals.

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I wonder if some of this it to do with the fact that you don’t have to have professional registration to work in the care sector and although there is a qualification pathway, its delivery and time invested in the workforce are inconsistent, which ultimately impacts the quality and value.

Kirsty Page shares her expert insightKirsty Page shares her expert insight
Kirsty Page shares her expert insight

An example of this would be, that entry-level roles require all workforce in the sector to have the minimum qualification of the care certificate.

However, I’ve known instances where other employers have handed them out without the carer having to do much for them.

In comparison, other professionals in the sector have to be registered with professional bodies such as Social Workers, GPs, Nurses, and Occupational Therapy with each profession having a universal pathway setting out the knowledge, skills, values and behaviours required, which is also reflected in the training and qualification required.

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Care does have other qualifications the workforce can train in such as the health and social care diplomas (2,3,4 and 5). However, these are not a legal requirement, whereas in the other professions, the training is standardised and is a legal requirement to undertake the role.

This indicating care isn’t given the kudos it deserves.

The UK Government has announced its plans for a Care Workforce pathway introducing a new Care Certificate at level 2 and a digital skills passport to improve the portability of individuals training within the sector.

It also hopes to set out a universal pathway setting out knowledge, skills, values and behaviours with four different role categories within that.

I welcome the government’s intention with this and standardising qualifications with a more unified pathway.

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It will improve the delivery of care and service to those in receipt of support and the workforce.

However, I feel they are still missing a fundamental aspect of the social care crisis, and that is, without individuals attracted to the care sector, or retaining the workforce all of this is immaterial.

There is a lot of evidence of this reflected in other professions in the sector. It also improves the quality, safety and accountability of the profession.

What we also need is adequate funding to Local Authorities and ICBs so they pay the true cost of care to care providers, so in turn they pay the workforce the correct pay for the knowledge, skills and values for the role.

Other professions within the sector have benefited from this investment from the government, when is the Care Work Force time?

Kirsty Page is Operations Director at West Park Care

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