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Workforce planning underpins the structure of a business, and nowhere more than in social care, where issues such as recruitment and retention are often assumed to be insurmountable.

With the changes that are happening at all levels, from government strategies to people’s individual choices, care providers all need to ensure that their business is going to develop and flourish in the future… and that you have the right staff on board to get you there.

What is Workforce Planning?

Workforce planning focuses on ensuring you and your team have the necessary skills, qualifications and support for your current level of service and the future. It looks at current staffing issues of retention, difficult behaviour, successful management styles, gaining qualifications, and many more areas. It looks at the challenges you anticipate and helps you prepare your strategy for the coming years.

How can Workforce Planning help me?

Workforce planning can help you:

  • foresee difficulties ahead and devise solutions to avoid or cope with these
  • retain more staff, and better staff
  • provide a better service to your clients –one that is truly person-centred
  • be more efficient and effective in your work
  • grow your awareness of the requirements on your sector
  • increase your revenue by reducing recruitment costs, increasing your capacity and consistency of service through greater efficiency at work
  • embrace the government’s personalisation initiative and become an example of Nottinghamshire County best practice.

What are the risks if I avoid Workforce Planning?

  • At best, your current workforce will not get the due attention to their development and skills that are necessary during this time of transformation in social care.
  • Businesses may well suffer and fail, due to lack of a suitably skilled, developed and supported workforce.
  • Service users will suffer due to lack of excellent care planning, and in future may well decide to take their business elsewhere as the market becomes increasingly competitive.
  • Your contract for funds from Nottinghamshire County Council may also be placed in jeopardy.
  • Your access to some funding streams may well become limited, as increasingly your development needs are required to be evidenced in a workforce plan.

What issues are there occurring in society which affect the social care sector?

  • There is a large increase in the cases of dementia in people under 65.
  • People with learning disabilities are living longer, and will start to be affected by conditions of old age as well as dementia.
  • Lack of skills and awareness of care needs amongst school leavers.
  • An ageing workforce and demographic, potentially leading to a loss of skills and experience.
  • Difficulties in retaining staff due to the culture and perception of the care sector.
  • An increasing number of unsupported carers (e.g. friends and family).

What changes are occurring in the social care sector?

The government’s personalisation agenda. This is shifting the focus of the care sector on to a Person-Centred approach, where the service user is empowered to make their own decisions where possible, and be safeguarded against abuse where they are not capable.

Full introduction of Direct Payments, whereby service users are in control of their own care budget entirely.

The introduction of the Deprivation of Liberties Safeguards act, as part of the Mental Capacity Act. (which came into force as law in April 2009).

National Minimum Standards (NMS) have been introduced, set by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and upheld by Nottinghamshire County Council

The National Minimum Dataset for social care (NMDS-sc) has been running for a couple of years. This is a national survey of all care providers that incorporates information on staff numbers, ages, qualifications, retention rates, etc. If you register and update your details regularly you may well be eligible for supportive funding to spend on up-skilling yourself and your workforce.

These moves signify a huge culture shift towards a Person-Centred approach to care which is all for the better, but it is a long term change, and will take work.

Why do I need to be aware of these changes?

The Care Quality Commission will be using the new NMS to assess care providers from this year onwards. New standards include ensuring that 50% of your staff are trained to NVQ level 2, and all of your staff undergo induction training in their first 6 months.

The new standards will have an emphasis on supporting the personalisation initiative, and to remain successful and competitive in your market it is essential to be aware of and participate in this culture shift.

Any contract you have with Nottinghamshire County Council will require you to have a Workforce Plan, as well as compliance with the National Minimum Standards.

If you do not comply with the new standards or participate in certain initiatives, you may lose access to funding

What is the person centred approach?

The person centred approach, we are pleased to say, is not just the new buzz-word. It is a country-wide shift in attitude, and it is going on in the NHS and lots of other government areas as well as the social care sector. It is the government’s long-term strategy to achieve a truly personal and effective support system for those needing care, and also for those people providing that care.

This approach, as it implies, puts the service user first. They will be empowered to make their own decisions where possible, and a flexible structure will be in place to ensure that everyone’s needs are met to the highest standards.

But we are clear that this will not be to the detriment of the care providers, or their staff. The person-centred approach emphasises the development of staff and skills across the care workforce, exactly so that they are fully supported to provide better care without stretching their resources or motivation.

Contact your Workforce Planning Officer to find out more.

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