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In the spotlight: Why is home care employee turnover so high?

Why are employee turnover rates so high in the world of home care? One of the first reasons appears to be low wages. Many home care employees still earn less than minimum wage for their job, because they are not paid for travel time between client locations. This can result in employees effectively working eight or ten hour shifts, but only being paid for six or seven hours, such is the amount of time they spend in transit.

Temporary or zero-hour contracts are also a problem – and not only for the employees. Clients using home care services need consistency and continuity when it comes to their carers, and with turnover in staff currently at higher levels than ever before, clients in busy areas can end up with new carers assigned to them every few months. For those with memory loss or illnesses like dementia, this can be highly confusing and even frightening.

Balancing work and home life is also a problem for many home carers, who work demanding shift patterns and often put in more than the recommended hours as stated in the Working Time Regulations. Many employers need to improve their workforce management skills – otherwise their team is liable to burn out, or indeed, move onto a new sector where their shifts will be more relaxed.

The state of the adult social care sector and workforce in England’ report by Skills for Care in 2020 showed the turnover rate for directly employed staff in the adult care sector was 30.4%, equivalent to approximately 430,000 leavers over the year. 

It’s a frightening statistic for a sector that is already facing such difficult challenges in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

And while most of these leavers find employment elsewhere in the sector, the turnover rate is pretty much double the UK cross-industry average (15%).

Why does the care sector have such high staff turnover?

Travel – Workers that travelled further were more likely to leave their role. Care workers travelling more than 20km had a higher turnover rate (32.3%), compared to those travelling less than 1km (25.0%).

Problem retaining younger staff – Turnover rates amongst those under 20 was 46.9%. And while the issue is prevalent in all industries, it’s a particular problem for the care sector – which has a high proportion of older workers who may retire in the next 10 years. 

People leave soon after joining – Turnover rates were 41.4% for those with less than one year of experience in the role. 

Inexperienced leadership – Turnover rates were higher if the registered manager was new to their role. 31.0% for a manager with 1 years’ experience, as opposed to 21.0% for a manager with more than 20 years’ experience.

Lack of training or chances for development – Care workers who received regular training and those with qualifications were less likely to leave their roles than those who didn’t.

Low-quality service – Turnover at regulated services that were rated overall by CQC as either ‘outstanding’ or ‘good’, was found to be lower (29.5%) than those rated ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ (32.2%).

 We all need to help solve the problem

As a technology provider that strives to put care at the centre of everything we do, the problem of high turnover is just as worrying for us as bad code. Both can put those being cared for at-risk and have a significant impact on the quality of care.

It’s why we try to think outside of the box with the software we develop, and why we work alongside care providers to make sure our software can do everything possible to help make care workers feel happy, satisfied and content in their roles.

How can reduce high turnover in the care sector?

Smart travel – Better use of data to create more intuitive scheduling that helps choose the right employee to attend to the right client. From using GPS to tactically plan visits and using care worker and client preferences to plan schedules –a comprehensive care planning system can help providers put people at the centre of planning.

Inspiring younger staff – In our recently Generation Z article, we looked at what care providers could be doing to attract and inspire younger workers. Putting ‘purpose’ at the forefront of care and accelerating the use of technology within the role could be the key to success.

Getting people to stay – Evidence shows that healthcare employees are incredibly prone to burnout and fatigue. One way to combat this is to provide wellness care to improve health and wellbeing. Start by increasing day-to-day communication and gathering employee feedback using surveys.

Better leadership – It’s natural that knowing you’re doing well increases productivity. Getting glowing feedback can have a positive impact on work. Whether it’s a simple call, an email or an integrated compliment form in a care management system – positive feedback pays off.

Track training and offer opportunities – Skills for care noted that workers that receive structured learning and development feel valued and supported and are more likely to remain in their posts. 

  • Completing qualifications leads to highly skilled and competent workers that provide high-quality care and support. 
  • Training and qualifications in the key areas of health and safety provide reassurance about workers’ confidence and competence.
  • Qualification achievements contribute considerable added value to providers and assist in workforce planning for the organisation.

And all of this can be brought together with a comprehensive care planning system – that can track employee qualifications, provide reminders for updates and expirations and help plan care around skills.

Aiming for ‘Outstanding’ home care – as the CQC transitions to its digital-first regulatory strategy, technology will play an even more significant role for providers striving to meet the criteria for the CQC’s ‘Outstanding’ rating – which could have a positive impact on employee retention.

Many elements of the home care sector need urgent attention, but if the problem with staff turnover is not rectified, we could be facing a real crisis in years to come.

Enjoyed this article? Why not download our guide ‘Outstanding Home Care’ – how Unique IQ’s technology is helping leading home care agencies achieve Outstanding CQC ratings.

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