As the first wave of graduates from the degree course, launched three years ago, are about to start their social care careers, the Department for Health has launched a recruitment drive to boost the numbers joining the social work and social care professions.The social care workforce in England comprises over one million people working in people’s own homes, residential and nursing homes, day care, hospitals, and in the wider community. An estimated two-thirds of the workforce are employed in the private and voluntary sector with the remainder working for local authorities. There are over 70,000 registered social workers in England, working with a broad range of people in the community, either in a client’s home or in residential care.
The recent White Paper set out a new direction for social care which includes bringing services closer to people’s homes through investment in community hospitals and facilities and shifting care safely away from hospitals. There are also proposals for better co-ordination between local councils and the NHS and this will be led by the Department of Health’s new director of adult care services.
Prevention of illness is a key feature of the new direction. Measure will include establishing more healthcare teams to deliver better care across institutional boundaries. A new NHS ‘Life Check’ service will be introduced and a Fitter Britain scheme will be launched as part of the build-up to the 2012 London Olympics.
Recent surveys show a growing interest in caring careers. More than half of 16-21 year olds have considered a course or career which enables them to give more back to society and more than a third of workers have considered swapping their job for one with less salary, but which had more personal rewards. Social care workers rate themselves highest for job satisfaction with 40% being “very happy”.