Blog | Angela Gifford

A Thought to Address the Shortage of Care Workers

Hospital beds are blocked because home care packages/residential care home beds are not available at the time of need. (Although, at times the practical administration in preparing discharge care plans efficiently and in an appropriate time frame, hinders rather than helps the situation) It is suggested that an increase in the wages paid to care workers will attract new entrants into the care sector. I believe that this may have some effect on recruitment, but it will not ensure sufficient numbers of new entrants to cope with a growing elderly population. Indeed, it may attract some people who will just see the work as offering above the minimum wage rate.

However, there is a large market of untapped care workers in the population who have been kept out of the home care sector by ‘over kill’ amounts of training requirements.

A quick search on Google will find training organisations that are offering an array of training, much of which can be done online, that is almost guaranteed to stop these, usually mature, caring individuals from entering the profession.

So, who are these people outside of the care sector workforce who do have practical experience but do not have certification to prove they are excellently qualified, caring people?

They are the mature age group of people who have cared in an informal manner. This large group of people have looked after sick, old and disabled members of their families. People who have been through their care ‘apprenticeship’ and have so much to offer. Their caring experience will be based on the practical side of caring, will have been flexible, kind and seasoned with common sense. Currently they are unlikely to be tempted to enter into paid care work because when they find out about any certification they will need to have, in all likelihood they abandon the idea immediately.

Many of these informal carers will research online to see what training they may need. The information that springs up immediately is training companies offering ‘fundamental’ training courses; care training with videos; up to 60 online courses with costs ranging from just over £1.00 to over £100. These are people who have probably worked in a practical manner with family members who have high dependency care needs. They have sat up at night, listened out at all times for the voice that tells them they are needed, have dealt with all levels of personal care, have worked with District Nurses, OT’s, Physio’s and GP’s together in a highly successful, care support situation.

Tens of thousands of these people are seriously experienced care workers but without certification.

However, some questions which can be asked are:

• Is online training as effective and safe as learning by informal experience whilst being overseen by professional health workers?

• Is online training as safe and effective as being taught in a room with a qualified instructor?

• Or for example, can a 90-minute online training course for Manual Handling really be as safe as practicing on either a body or equivalent weight?

It appears to be possible in 2018 that you can become a certified care worker without actually having any practical experience.

I am not suggesting that thousands of informal carers enter the profession without training, but a well-publicised, basic refresher course would tempt into the profession, genuine entrants who want to continue to care, having pride in the skills and experience they have. If they wish to further their skills with additional training, then the opportunities will be there.

People who need low and moderate level care support do not necessarily need to receive their support from care workers who have high levels of training. Having a large number of care workers who could support individuals with low and moderate care needs would release existing, highly trained, experienced care workers to support people with higher levels of need.

Simply put, is it not an idea worth pursuing?

By:  Angela E Gifford
Posted:  1 Aug 2018

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