The government has outlined further details of its £500m package to support the development of the social care workforce in England, including the creation of a new skills framework.
However, leaders from the sector have once again stressed that extra money and more action are needed to make necessary social care reforms.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) first announced its £500m package for supporting professional development and staff mental wellbeing last September.
This week, the DHSC confirmed that this initiative would be extended for an additional year (2022-23), but using the same money from within the funding package.
The Workforce Development Fund has so far helped more than 14,000 care workers from across more than 2,300 organisations to progress, despite the pressures of the pandemic, according to the DHSC.
Looking ahead, the government said it was working with the social care sector on plans for staff training and support, including the creation of a new knowledge and skills framework to enable clear progression pathways.
Overarchingly, the government said the new framework would set out the “knowledge, skills, values, and behaviours people need to work in adult social care”.
“It will also set out career structures and clear pathways for development within roles, as well as creating more routes for progression, it said.
“The skills framework will offer progression and improved opportunities which all our staff deserve”
It will, therefore, be using some of the £500m to pay for new learning and development opportunities from April 2023 to support this, the DHSC said.
Such opportunities would include supporting the costs of continued professional development (CPD), the development of a new care certificate qualification and a “digital hub and skills passport” for the workforce.
England’s chief nurse for adult social care Professor Deborah Sturdy said: “A key priority when I took on this role was to improve training and career opportunities for our hard-working staff.
“Providing care is a skill which requires nurturing and if we want to retain the best of the profession we need to care for them too.
“The skills framework will offer progression and improved opportunities which all our staff deserve,” she said.
However, Miriam Deakin, interim deputy chief executive and director of policy and strategy of NHS Providers, highlighted the hundreds of thousands of vacancies in the sector and called for further action.
“National support to enable social care staff to develop their careers through training and development opportunities is one important factor in helping to attract and retain staff in essential caring roles,” she said.
“But the detail of this funding comes at a time when the social care sector is facing significant recruitment and retention issues, with over 160,000 vacancies.”
Ms Deakin added: “A lack of clear pathways for career progression and staff burnout have been cited as two major contributors to why adult social care providers struggle to retain staff. This sits alongside a clear need for better pay.
“Health and care leaders welcomed the £500m support package when it was originally announced in September 2021,” she said.
“But more action is needed by government in the short and longer term to place our social care system on a sustainable footing.”
“More action is needed by government in the short and longer term to place our social care system on a sustainable footing”
Chief executive of Care England, Professor Martin Green, said the charity welcomed the continuation of the Workforce Development Fund.
“However, there is a need for a clear long-term strategy for the social care workforce and this must be underpinned by significant amounts of extra funding so that we can reward and train our colleagues to a level appropriate to the complex and highly skilled work that they do,” he said.
The announcement from DHSC comes at the same time as a recent report from the cross party Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, which found that the adult social care sector does not have enough funding now and in the long term.
The report, published last week, warned that the government “currently has nothing more than a vision, with no roadmap, no timetable, no milestones, and no measures of success” to implement plans which would support the social care workforce.
Minister for care and mental health, Gillian Keegan, said: “Dedicating your life to caring for others is not just a job, it is a calling but it also needs to be a career.
“We know how hardworking social care staff are and they deserve our support in developing their skills through training.
“Better training ultimately means better care for residents and a better future for staff.”