Image: Shirley Potter

We need to change the negative image of working in care and make social care more attractive.

That was the message voiced by Shirley Potter, Learning and Development Manager from the Association for Real Change on BBC East Midlands on Wednesday 13th March 2013.

The news item, focused on how one care agency in Nottingham has 40 vacancies that they are struggling to fill. The reason put forward for this is that working in health and social care suffers from a negative image – that people unfortunately think care is only about “wiping people’s bottoms,” when in fact a lot of it is about companionship, “literally spending time with people.” In these times when unemployment is high, and with the age of the population increasing, it is becoming even more important to tackle this negative image of working in social care.

Shirley was interviewed about why the roles are seen as unattractive and what can be done to turn around the image of social care. Shirley said,”today’s society doesn’t see roles in health and social care attractive,” explaining that this is for a variety of reasons such as low pay and unsocial hours. She also added that, “We need to make Health and Social Care attractive through clearer career structures.”

This is something which the Sector Skills Councils are working on and doing good work especially through the Health and Social Care Champions who are spending time encouraging more people into the sector.  This “big issue needs resolving” soon and when asked about the advantages of working in care, Shirley said, “It’s a rewarding role… you’re helping somebody live their life how they choose and independently, you’re supporting that independence.”

Another way to increase the attractiveness of working in care is by improving the pay and working conditions and getting rid of the 15 minutes visits, which are ‘impossible’. This is something which the Government said it would do in the Care and Support White Paper, although how they are going to achieve this is unclear.

  • View this infographic on the make up of social care workforce in England