Adult social care workforce 

The adult social care (ASC) workforce, comprising over 1.5 million people, undertakes vitally important work that supports individuals and families in our society and promotes strong and inclusive communities. 

People with care and support needs should receive personalised and high-quality services to enable them to enjoy fulfilled lives in their own homes and communities. Consistent care should be available to all, irrespective of age, location, or circumstance.  

High quality care and support services are dependent upon a highly skilled and valued workforce, appropriately rewarded for their work and the vital impact that it has on people’s lives.  

The term workforce includes: 

  • employees working in statutory organisations with responsibility for ASC functions
  • those commissioned by councils and employed by care providers or through agencies to deliver care and support
  • those people employed via a direct payment i.e. personal assistants
  • care staff employed as part of any integrated arrangements with health.

While not part of the paid workforce, we also recognise the invaluable role that informal and unpaid carers and volunteers play in supporting people to live the lives that they want to live in their own homes.  

Social care is a major employer, contributing £40.5 billion annually to the national economy, making it a key driving force for reform and transformation. 

Through our joint work with Skills for Care, the LGA and ADASS are seeking to drive meaningful change in better supporting the social care workforce in five priority areas:   

  • Strategic workforce planning
  • Growing and developing the workforce
  • Enhancing the use of technology
  • Supporting wellbeing and positive mental health 
  • Building and enhancing social justice, equality, diversity and inclusion in the workforce 
Strategic workforce planning

Councils, working with providers and other partners, need to anticipate and respond effectively to the changing health and care needs of the population over time. A local workforce plan sets a direction of travel for an area, supporting places to develop new models of care and recognising that adult social care can be a key enabler to recovery by offering quality jobs with good opportunities. A workforce plan will be underpinned by credible data and intelligence that is used to drive delivery strategies and will crucially be informed by those with experience of using services. 

Skills for Care ASC workforce data set 

Growing and developing the workforce 

If care and support continue to be delivered in the same way, workforce projections suggest that there would need to be a 32 per cent (520,000) increase in social care jobs to 2.17 million by 2035. In the current climate of high turnover of staff and vacancies, this is unrealistic.  We must reset the system to deliver care and support in a different way.  But to achieve this, we must improve the conditions and opportunities for the workforce to create rewarding and valued roles. In addition, we must improve the support to the wealth of unpaid carers and volunteers who provide invaluable support to the health and care system. 

Enhancing the use of technology

Technology cannot replace what we value most about our workforce. However, the development of new digital solutions and the adoption of technology at scale can help to address workforce challenges and improve workforce capacity.  We see technology and better working practices as a key enabler to developing a more modern and agile workforce, meeting care and support needs in more efficient and effective ways and improving outcomes for those we seek to support. 

Supporting wellbeing and positive mental health 

Efforts to support wellbeing should not just be seen as a short-term response to COVID-19, but a sustained commitment to tackle long-term drivers of poor staff experience, health and wellbeing. Social care employers and managers need to have access to tools that can support and enhance the mental health and wellbeing of themselves and their staff, both now and in the future. 

Read more about supporting wellbeing and positive mental health:

Building and enhancing social justice, equality, diversity and inclusion in the workforce

Addressing inequalities within the system that adversely impact upon specific groups in the workforce, including people with disabilities, women and people from BAME communities, should be at the heart of any future workforce strategy. The entire social care workforce must strive for equality of outcomes, focusing on freedom, independence, safeguarding, prevention and on good advice, so that we are able to support good lives, and give dignity and respect.