Health and Wellbeing

Stark warning leads to call for more home care workers across Devon

Picture of an elderly lady at home receiving care and support. The lady is in the kitchen and her care worker is stood with her as they prepare a meal.Spending on adult care and health will go up by £4.5 million

Posted on: 16 October 2018

As the Government announces measures to reduce the impact of additional winter pressures on critical front line health services, local Councils are taking steps to prevent people from going to hospital with preventable complaints or to help them return home as quickly as possible after treatment.

Devon County Council is already investing millions to develop a ‘home first’ approach, alongside partners in the NHS, to help people be independent and to reduce hospital admissions.

The investment is to increase capacity in short term services so that people can regain their independence quickly after a spell in hospital, and it’s building good relationships with care homes to avoid unnecessary delays for people leaving hospital.

Winter preparation is also ensuring that care workers have had their flu jabs, protecting themselves and preventing spread of illness to others.

But of real concern to the council and to care providers are staffing levels, and whether care organisations have sufficient numbers of care workers to meet demand this winter.

Councillor Andrew Leadbetter“Right now, there are not enough people working in the home care sector,” says Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, the Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for adult social care.

“Care providers are doing an excellent job and I want to thank them for everything they do, but they’re stretched.

“Devon is by no means unusual – there is a shortage of people in the care sector in all parts of the country – but it’s a fact, there are too few people working in the domiciliary care sector in Devon.

“Home care providers are already under pressure to meet demand and this will only increase over the winter.

“This is not a workforce that can come from elsewhere – it is only if people in our county come forward to work in the care sector that we will be able to meet the needs of our neighbours, friends and families this winter.”

Recent estimates show there are around 1,200 jobs in adult social care vacant now in Devon.

“These are good jobs, helping people stay safe, warm and well in their own communities.

“The more support there is available to people in their community, the less they will need to call upon acute services this winter.”

So the Council is stepping up Proud to Care Devon, a recruitment campaign encouraging people to consider careers in care, and now with a focus specifically on jobs in the domiciliary care sector.

Jean Pearn started her career in care aged 48.  She says, it’s never too late to start a career in care.

“I’d had several different jobs including office and factory work, and more recently working in restaurants and catering.

“When I felt my job in catering had run its course, I was ready for a change.  At 48, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and my daughter who was a care worker said I’d be great working in care.

“I remember her saying, ‘Mum, you always care for people and enjoy helping people, so why not do this as a job?’.

“I didn’t realise it myself but it was true, and becoming a care worker was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

“I already had an insight in to care because I’d cared for family members and supported neighbours. My daughter worked as a care worker in a residential care home, so I had an idea what to expect.

“What I wasn’t expecting was how rewarding I’d find the role compared to anything I’d done in the past.

“Leaving someone happy and smiling, knowing you’ve supported them to get there, is a wonderful feeling!

“Over the last 16 years I’ve had several interesting and varied roles in care. My first role was working with adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, supporting them to live as independently as possible in their own home or in a care home. It was challenging but so rewarding, seeing the difference you make every day.

“For 10 years I worked in a residential home for adults with Autism, Asperger’s, and challenging behaviour. As well as providing direct care and support I was a family liaison officer. This gave me the opportunity to work with each individual resident and build relationships with them and their families, from arranging family visits, to supporting people to arrange hospital appointments.

“I loved this role as it was so important for the person being supported to know I was there to help with every situation.

“The achievement I’m most proud of was in this role.  I was supporting a lady with complex Autistic Spectrum Disorder who showed no emotional empathy. I was her key worker for three and a half years and I’ll always remember the first time she asked me for a hug.

“The role was complex and challenging, but that’s what made it so rewarding.  When it was time for a change I moved to my current role where I support older people in their own homes.

“On an average day I support people with their daily needs.  This does include personal care, but it’s so much more than that. I monitor their fluid and food intake; ensure they take their medication; support them to access their GP; and liaise with their families, as well as professionals such as district nurses and occupational therapists.

“The role is special.  Knowing that my input has given another person greater quality of life in a place where they have chosen to be.

“If you are thinking of a career in care but wondering if it’s too late, my advice is it’s never too late!

“It’s possible to start a career in care at any age with no previous experience or qualifications.

“I started at 48 and look what I’ve achieved.  It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done!”

Dr Rob DyerDr Rob Dyer, NHS Devon, said:

“The NHS is gearing up to respond to the increase in demand for health services this winter due to increase in expected serious illness, particularly in the elderly.

“The ability of health services in our acute hospitals, community hospitals and other community based services is dependent upon social care services being able to meet people’s care needs.

“Domiciliary care is a vital part of that, so it is important that the sector has sufficient funding and the workforce to provide much needed care to people in their own homes.”

There are currently around 270 jobs being advertised on the Proud to Care Devon website,, with nearly 80 jobs available specifically within domiciliary care.  If you are interested in a career that helps people to live in their own home, please visit the website and have a look at the real stories.

8 comments on “Stark warning leads to call for more home care workers across Devon

  1. Brian Willis says:

    National Health and Social Services need to be closely aligned.

    Care Homes and Care in the home should not be ‘ farmed out ‘ to the private sector but come under public control, ie The National Healh and Social Services

    • Anon says:

      There is clearly no central strategy to do this.

      It appears on the ground that whilst senior leadership pay lip-service to the idea they are totally pre-occupied with managing and cutting budgets (I thought Theresa May stated that austerity was over?) . The public aren’t fools. Until there is a seismic shift in approach and philosophy this will never happen.

      Maybe if the Councillor responsible for Social Care petitioned No 10 to reverse the cuts – as many LA’s already have – we may be able to commission the support that is actually required

  2. Andy says:

    Zero hour contracts work only one way in my past experience. A carer does nit know until the week before what their hours may or not be. However, in my experience, if a carer tries to avoid certain hours due to appointments, they are penalised one way or another and at the very least given a flat. No.
    Have the Council followed up to see whether agencies are actually paying travelling time and the carers are benefitting from the additional allowances?

    • Hi Andy. We monitor our contracts to ensure that care providers are fulfilling the terms of the contract, and that includes paying their care and support workers for travel time. Thanks.

  3. Arthur Durrant says:

    We know that applications from EU27 citizens to work in the NHS have tumbled (down by 90% for nurses). Is there a parallel pressure in social care?

    Also, if just 270 of the 1,200 vacancies are advertised through Proud to Care Devon where are the remaining 930 advertised?

    • Thanks Arthur. Interesting point about EU27 citizens. It’d be interesting to hear from anyone in the business what their experience is and whether it mirrors the NHS. About the job numbers – unfortunately not all job vacancies will be advertised through Proud to Care Devon, so there’ll be lots of jobs advertised via the usual channels, (online, traditional media, job centres, recruitment agencies etc) that we simply won’t know about. What we’ve heard from care providers, anecdotally at least, is that they’ve seen a good level (and good quality) of responses to vacancies that they’ve put through the Proud to Care jobs website. Thanks.

  4. Andy Thorne says:

    When agencies start paying staff travelling expenses and indeed, travelling time, carers will be more forthcoming.
    Ending zero hour contracts would help and realistic travelling times allowed between calls.

    • Hi Andy. We took a decision a few years ago to pay the domiciliary care organisations that we contract with considerably higher payments that cover the cost of care workers’ travel, and to encourage more training to aid recruitment and retention. We also encourage shift work and/or guaranteed hours contracts, and many providers offer this, but many care workers prefer the flexibility of zero based contracts to fit in with their family lives. Thanks.

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