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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

New research lays bare recruitment issues in social care

This news post is 11 months old

The vast majority of organisations are facing recruitment issues, and staff absences have increased

New research has laid bare the recruitment issues for social care that have been exacerbated by Brexit and Covid-19.

Scottish Care issued a Workforce Recruitment and Retention Survey between July and August 2021 to better understand the challenges facing the social care sector. A total of 251 providers and organisations from the private, third and voluntary sectors responded. 

Almost 90% of respondents stated recruitment and retention was problematic for them. 

Ongoing recruitment is a massive cost to the sector as providers are advertising for openings on a rolling basis, which the research says is unsustainable. More than a third of respondents recruit weekly, while an additional third stated that they recruit as needed - this was stated to be daily. Figures were higher in Care at Home and Housing Support services (almost 75% recruit on a daily and weekly basis), but the problem is overall significant across the sector. 

When asking what routes work best to recruit, the overall consensus was ‘word of mouth’ (52.8%), however comments state that despite using many options including recruitment websites, that none are really working well.

There is also a high non-attendance rate of those invited to interview, almost 40% of those invited to interview simply do not show. Almost a quarter of staff recruited leave within the first 3 months of joining an organisation.

The number of hours that people are working are markedly high at the moment, the study found, however there is increasing pressure on staff to maintain the same quality of care while working longer hours. Almost 50% of organisations said their staff are working more than 35 hours per week.

There are currently high sickness and absence levels at the moment in the sector. The reasons for this are mixed with reasons cited including anxiety/depression, stress, exhaustion, family related (including childcare). This has had some degree of impact, felt by almost three quarters of providers.  In reality, over 40% of providers report sickness levels being higher than the pre-pandemic average, and the sickness absence level known is estimated to sit at 16% nationally, based on reports from providers.

Significantly, when asked whether providers felt confident they could continue the same level of care over the next 12 months if nothing were to change, there was little consensus: 44.2% said they would not be able to sustain current levels of care, 22.7% were neutral and 33.2% agreed.

A Scottish Care spokesperson said: “These findings are alarming and must be addressed imminently, not least through valuing the critical role which our skilled social care staff play in supporting the people of Scotland to stay safe and well. It is a highly critical role to the functioning of our society and urgent work must be done both to improve pathways into the sector and to implement the findings of the Fair Work Commission and encourage staff retention.”

A fuller summary of the findings will be published next week, and an in-depth report on the current state of the workforce will be released ahead of the National Care Service consultation.



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