Massive numbers of British workers who provide care to adults in nursing homes, or in their own homes, are quitting their jobs in the face of shortages and high workloads that make it increasingly impossible to work. The impact is being felt by the most frail and vulnerable in society.
According to data gathered by the charity Skills for Care, in 2015-16, an estimated 338,520 care workers left their jobs, equivalent to 928 people a day, and of those 60 percent stopped working in social care altogether. A total of over 1.3 million were employed in the adult care sector in England.
The average front line, full-time care worker earns just £7.69p an hour, or £14,800 a year. Last year the average median salary was around £27, 600 for a full-time worker in the UK.
One in four social care workers was employed on a zero hours contract, and last year it is estimated that one in 20 job vacancies remained empty, a shortage of 84,320 care workers.
These figures point to the fact that social care providers are struggling to retain staff, with the industry’s staff turnover reaching 27 percent, twice the average for other professions in the UK.
The data was released at the same time as a letter written to Prime Minister Theresa May, from the chairman of the UK Homecare Association, which warned that the adult social care system has begun to collapse.
The fact that workers in the sector are often low paid, in what is a very demanding and difficult job, leads to difficulties retaining staff.
The number of people aged 85 and above in England has increased by almost a third in the last decade, and will more than double over the next two decades. This substantial section of the population will require increased health services and care support as they get older.
Disability Free Life Expectancy (DFLE) at age 65 has been falling from its peak in 2010-12. This is a measurement of the number of people who have reached the age of 65 without having already started to suffer from a condition that leaves them in poor health beyond the age of 65.
DFLE had increased from 2005-07 to 2009-11, with men gaining 0.4 years and women 0.5 years of good health. However, since that time women have lost 60 percent, and men a staggering 75 percent, of the gains made in an earlier part of the decade.