Adult Care Workforce Pathway
5 min read/Published On: May 21, 2024/923 words/

What the Adult Care Workforce Pathway Means for the sector

Adult social care has navigated the challenges of poor recruitment and retention for decades. I joined the sector 18 years ago when I was 17, and I thought it was bad then having to cover many shifts due to lack of staffing, but I think its worse now as we combat the ageing population and their increasing care needs.

Government announced their Adult Care Workforce Pathway with the aim to provide a clear and consistent structure for the workforce. It aims to recognise the skills, knowledge, values and behaviours that people working in the sector need to deliver high quality, personalised and compassionate care.

In this blog I dive into how having defined career pathways, combined with the new training that is planned to be introduced can help improve recruitment and aid retention in the sector.

What is a career pathway?

Career pathways are structured roadmaps that layout the progression of an individual’s career. These pathways typically include various stages/levels/roles, each with its own set of skills, responsibilities and opportunities for advancement.

Some organisations have embedded elements of career pathways, with a number of them having this for care workers in the following format:

Whilst this is perfectly acceptable, it could go one step further, especially when you think of all the other roles in social care, including cooks, domestic staff, data & IT, marketing, procurement, quality etc.

I worked for Bluebird Care approximately 6 years ago, and I remember them introducing their career pathway. I remember a big launch with the message ‘You might prefer to remain with your customers providing their care and support in their homes, or you may choose to move into an office role where your passion for care can combine with your commercial ability to drive the business forward. Whatever you choose, there is an opportunity to develop your career.’ I have yet to see a better visual career pathway tool or see a better career embedded pathway in social care. You can find out more information here.

Career Pathway Benefits

We know the current challenges in the sector include the growing demand for frontline care workers, the challenges faced by care workers due to the increased complexities of social care, poor recruitment and retention and burnout.

There are some clear benefits of having a defined pathway and this is evident based on studies and research in other sectors. The benefits include:

  • Continuous growth and development – defined pathways encourage ongoing professional development with staff members being able to see a clear trajectory for their career, with opportunities for skill development, training and advancement.
  • Improved retention and reduced turnover – we know that by providing staff with training and careers helps to retain them for longer.
  • Aids recruitment – a well-defined career pathway provides clear steps and milestones for individuals entering the sector. This clarity can attract new talent, especially those who seek a sense of direction and purpose in their careers.
  • Increased job satisfaction and in turn increased motivation
  • Cost savings – the cost per hire is more expensive than ever before and through reducing the turnover of staff, you will save on recruitment and induction costs, with this money going back to the business in other areas (such as for other incentives to further aid retention)
  • Improved care outcomes – through improving the skillset and quality of the frontline staff, you will ensure that the workforce is able to meet the needs and preferences of the people they support.

In summary, we know from other sectors that a well-defined career pathway is a powerful tool for attracting, retaining and developing a skilled and dedicated workforce.

what the Adult Care Workforce Pathway means

Enhanced Training

One of the fundamental parts of an effective career pathway is the training and upskilling of staff. I have not been the biggest fan of the Care Certificate, due to the ability to self-download the certificate, it not being mandatory and I was pleased to see the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) commission a specification for the development of a new Care Certificate qualification based on the existing Care Certificate standards and that awarding organisations are now developing the Level 2.

Training in the sector has improved since I joined although the pandemic saw a huge shift to e-learning and I really hope we come out the other side with a blended learning approach.

We know that effective training can:

  • ensure the workforce has the knowledge and skills to perform in their roles.
  • increase confidence and motivation.
  • improve the delivery of care.
  • increases staff satisfaction.
  • improves retention.

Final Thoughts

I am a big advocate for training and career pathways and have seen first hand how the two combined can be the most powerful tool in your toolkit. There are many questions that still need answering, but my top five to leave you pondering too are:

  1. How will the new adult care workforce pathway be integrated with the existing frameworks and regulations for adult social care such as the Care Quality Commission and the Health and Social Care Act 2008?
  2. How will the new Level 2 Adult Social Care Certificate qualification be delivered and assessed? What will be the content and standards of the qualification?
  3. How will the government ensure that the funding for apprenticeships, training and qualifications is sufficient and sustainable, and that it reaches the providers and workers who need it most?
  4. What does funding look like after the Level 2 Care Certificate?
  5. How will the government monitor and evaluate the impact of the reforms on the recruitment, retention and quality of the workforce.

Guest Blogger: Mark Topps – Regional Business Manager

Related Posts