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Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW, UK)

Project status
Florin Vadean and Shereen Hussein
Institution web page
Host institution
 Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU), University of Kent
Team members
Florin Vadean (PSSRU, University of Kent), Shereen Hussein (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine), Stephen Allan (PSSRU, University of Kent), Katerina Gousia (PSSRU, University of Kent), Agnes Turnpenny (PSSRU, University of Kent; until June 2021), Grace Collins (PSSRU, University of Kent), Hansel Teo (PSSRU, University of Kent), Ann-Marie Towers (CHSS, University of Kent), Catherine Marchand (CHSS, University of Kent), Eirini Saloniki (Department of Applied Health Research, UCL), Alex Bryson (Department of Social Science, UCL), John Forth (Bayes Business School, City University of London).
Funding information (if funded)
Funding information: Health Foundation Efficiency Research Programme
Project Summary

Staff turnover and job vacancy rates are persistently high in UK social care. Understanding the drivers of staff retention and motivators of care staff is important to enable the sector to provide sustainable, high-quality services and meet increasing demand. This project, which runs between April 2019 and March 2022, aims to help social care providers, commissioners, regulators and policy-makers understand the specific organisational and individual drivers of staff retention in the social care sector by exploring:

  • What specific characteristics do social care workers have, and how committed are they to their jobs, when compared with workers in other low-wage service industries?
  • Why are there differences in retention rates between social care providers, and between social care and other low-wage service industries?
  • Why do care workers decide to leave their jobs, and why do some job leavers choose to leave the social care industry altogether?
  • What is the impact of COVID-19 on workforce retention and sustainability?

We are answering these questions by:

  • Analysing existing data from national surveys and large datasets, primarily: the UK Quarterly Labour Force Survey; the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings; the Employer Skills Survey; the National Minimum Dataset for Social Care (NMDS-SC); the Skills for Care survey of individual employers and personal assistants; and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) health and social care provider register.
  • Collecting primary data on the impact of COVID-19 on the social care workforce by means of: a) a ‘pulse’ workforce web survey; and b) a longitudinal (two wave) telephone survey of care workers.
  • As well as carrying out the data analysis, we will consult and work closely with adult social care stakeholders, including providers, care users, care workers, family carers, commissioners, regulators and policy makers. We will organise annual workshops across the country to gather views on emerging findings and generate examples of ‘good working conditions/quality jobs’ in the social care industry, and pathways to achieve these nationally.
Outputs / Expected Outputs

Several outputs have been published:

Recruitment and retention of the social care workforce: longstanding and emerging challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic:

The impact of COVID-19 on the social care workforce: interviews with stakeholders

COVID-19 and the Wellbeing of the Adult Social Care Workforce: Evidence from the UK

Migrant workers and the resilience of the long-term care sector in England

The Impact of COVID-19 on social care workers’ workload, wellbeing and ability to provide care safely: Findings from the UK

Who wants to be a social care worker?

Project website


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Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW, UK)