Staffing crisis could get worse, warns care home owner

Jason Whitehouse, Head of Health and Social Care at leading training provider Realise

Jason Whitehouse, Head of Health and Social Care at leading training provider Realise - Credit: Realise

The owner of a Devon care home fears the current staffing crisis in the industry could continue to worsen unless staff training and development programmes are embraced.

Ken Barker has been the owner of the Dawn Rest Home in Totnes for the last 25 years and admits recruiting staff has been a growing problem in recent times.

The Dawn Rest Home has 26 full and part-time staff for its 18-capacity residential setting but is facing increasing issues when looking to recruit new members to the team, a trend which is seen across Devon and Cornwall.

Ken said: “It’s becoming a very real issue and the crisis will only get worse unless the whole industry acts.

“We advertise for new staff every single week and see there are 60-plus care homes in the South West alone doing exactly the same.

“For me, the key is to make the opportunities in the care home sector as appealing as possible and that means focusing around staff training and development.

“Working in social care can be a fantastic experience and we need to give people entering the industry the chance to gain qualifications and build a long, rewarding and successful career.

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“In general, the industry has an ageing workforce so it is important that we lift the perception of care work from a fill-in job to an excellent and worthwhile career with quality training and a clear path of progression.”

Dawn Rest Home continually invest in training and partner with Realise, one of the UK’s leading training providers, to run a comprehensive apprenticeship programme.

Ken added: “Apprenticeships have worked brilliantly for us. Our current registered manager started out 25 years ago as a care assistant and has passed Level Two, Three and Four qualifications that resulted in her being awarded the manager’s qualification.

“We have just recruited two new apprentices, one of whom saw his job as a lifeguard end due to the closure of a swimming pool because of Covid and he is now well settled into working in the care home and working towards his apprenticeship qualifications.”

Jason Whitehouse, Head of Health and Social Care at Realise, said workplace reform is required in the health and social care sector.

He said: “We need to see better pay, as well as more extensive training and development opportunities to compete with other sectors and deliver the care needed.

“We need a long-term plan that focuses on investing in employees and creating opportunities, both in Devon and Cornwall but also across the rest of the country.

“I believe apprenticeship schemes, as well as training and development programmes, can help provide a natural career path to those who are new to the sector.

“From a business point of view, it makes sense for health and social care settings to take advantage of the current support available to them, including the Workforce Development Fund.

“The worst case scenario is that 95% of the cost of the apprenticeship training is funded by the government and, for larger organisations, it can be completely subsidised by the apprenticeship levy.

“The most exciting thing about our sector is that there’s a fast progression route with five different level courses that enables ambitious individuals to progress and develop quickly.

“These qualifications can offer the opportunity to specialise in certain areas and open up a lot of potential different career options.

“The hard work can’t stop there though. Once apprenticeships are completed it’s crucial that staff are appreciated and rewarded with a competitive level of pay so that we keep pace with other sectors.

“We can’t afford to wait any longer because it’s clear the sector needs support.”

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