The Cinderella care sector: will Prince Charming ever arrive?

The National Audit Office’s report The adult social care workforce in England provided damming evidence that “The Department of Health and Social Care is not doing enough to support a sustainable social care workforce.”

As the largest provider of learning disability care and support in the sector, we’re encouraged to see that this issue is finally getting the recognition it deserves – which we have been tirelessly lobbying for in partnership with Learning Disability Voices.

Andrew Cannon, CEO of Voyage Care, said, “I’m proud to work alongside such amazing and dedicated people who continuously go above and beyond to provide outstanding care and support despite the challenges the sector faces.

“Fairly rewarding people for their skills and experience is vital to building a sustainable workforce. Whilst underfunding makes it difficult for us to do all we would like to do on pay, we aim to find other avenues to recognise and reward staff.”

At a local level, there is clear appetite to create sustainable models of care and support that result in appropriate levels of staffing. Andrew Cannon added, “Voyage Care is committed to working in partnership with local authorities and CCGs in the face of these challenges in support of a common goal – the best possible outcomes for the people we all serve.

“It’s time for these efforts to be backed by the Government through appropriate funding.”

Striving for sector-wide quality care for people with learning disabilities

The social care sector is often perceived as predominantly elderly care, it is important to also remember the hundreds of thousands of people with learning disabilities. These people, unlike the elderly sector, usually have little to no access to private funding and rely solely on State funding.

Jayne Davey, COO of Voyage Care, said, “We are people supporting people to achieve amazing outcomes and our staff make meaningful differences to the lives of the people we support every day.

“There are so many positives about working in the social care sector that get lost in this negative narrative. We offer a career with clear development pathways, including training, vocational qualifications and we’re expanding our apprenticeships programme to attract more young people to the sector.

“We’re committed to making Voyage Care a great place to work and understand the work / life balance requirements of our diverse workforce. Therefore, we offer flexible contracts that benefit staff while avoiding zero hour contracts that offer little commitment.

“We negotiate with our suppliers to continually develop new additional rewards, benefits and wellbeing perks to our employees. It is important to us to ensure our people feel valued and invested in despite the funding pressures. Our employees are our lifeblood.

“We encourage people with caring values who are looking to be part of an amazing team who make a tangible difference to people’s lives, to get in touch with our recruitment team. Our business is growing across England, Scotland and Wales so there are new opportunities at all levels every day.”

A commitment to the people we support

While this situation clearly needs to be addressed, it is also important to recognise the continued commitment and dedication front line staff deliver on a daily basis for the people the sector supports. For them, pay is clearly important, however, a career in care means much more to them.

Amy Rowan, Voyage Care support worker of the year 2016, said, “I love my job, it is so rewarding to see the impact my support has to people’s lives. The home I work at really feels like an extension of family.”

Amy talks about winning support worker of the year 2016

Hayley Evans, Voyage Care operations manager of the year 2017, added, “ I’ve been in the sector for over 20 years – starting as a support worker – and I’ve seen it evolve in many ways for the better. The focus at Voyage Care is on providing the highest quality care and support possible in spite of funding challenges and I find it so rewarding to be part of the teams that are achieving it.”

Hayley has a secret...

“Social care cannot continue as a Cinderella service – without a valued and rewarded workforce, adult social care cannot fulfil its crucial role of supporting elderly and vulnerable people in society. Pressures and demands on the health and social care systems are increasing, so the Department needs to respond quickly to this challenge by giving the sector the attention it deserves and needs, instead of falling short and not delivering value for money.”, Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, 8 February 2018.