Riding the staffing storm

By Tom Hartley, associate director, Carterwood 


As the media is all too keen to report, the consensus on the outlook for social care is one that’s fraught with challenges. 

Despite the ageing UK demographics, which should in theory provide a buoyant market for care homes, operational issues surrounding staff recruitment and retention are compounding the funding crisis. 

The recent statistics are disappointing: 

  • Although care work is typically low paid, it’s estimated that the average residential home now spends more than half (52%) of its turnover on staff 
  • Care home insolvencies almost doubled between 2016/17 and 2017/18, rising from 81 to 148 
  • 48 councils have seen care providers cease trading in the last 6 months 
  • Staff recruitment and retention is the most significant worry, with directors of adult social care services stressing the urgent need to increase salaries 
  • The number of care homes in England has fallen by 700 over that last 2 years, with the number of places falling by more than 2,000 
  • The number of nurses and midwives registered in the UK fell by 495 between 2017 and 2018 to 690,278 
  • There are 3,000 fewer nurses from the European Economic Area working in the NHS than a year ago 
  • Just 800 EU nurses came to the UK last year, compared to 6,382 in 2016/17 
  • We estimate the social care sector has a current shortfall of about 8,000 registered nurses, with no evidence of any areas in the UK that will find the recruitment of nurses easy 

Unsurprisingly, our clients are not only concerned about the potential challenges of staffing their new care developments, but also how to alleviate and prevent staffing issues in existing homes. 

We believe that being acutely informed about the local staffing market is now an essential part of due diligence. That’s why last autumn we launched our unique Carterwood staffing analysis report, which provides a detailed study of a new or existing development’s staff catchment area.  

We designed the report to not only help reduce the risk of investing millions of pounds into a new care home only to be unable to recruit sufficient staff, but to optimise the staffing strategy in operational homes.  

By assessing factors including competition for staff in the area, rates of pay, vacancies, transportation links, major hospitals, and the key locations in which potential employees may reside, the analysis also considers how to reduce potential spend on agency staff and how to maximise the opportunity to recruit staff. 

In that sense, our new staffing analysis can keep operators ahead of the game and equipped to ride the staffing storm.  

It’s also important to consider that while on the surface the falling numbers of care homes can seem discouraging, we expect many of these were small and not fit-for-purpose, struggling to compete.  

Some 85% of care homes are over 50 years old. A new, modern-standard care home with 50+ en-suite bedrooms is likely to fare far better, despite the staffing challenges, due to its market appeal and efficiency by design. 

What’s more, it’s not all doom and gloom; our analysis shows that last year 143 new elderly care homes were opened, bringing 8,864 new care beds. With these new care homes at an average size of 62 bedrooms, and 93% being en-suite, they will be well placed to compete successfully, despite the testing conditions.  


This article first appeared in Healthcare Business magazine, July 2018. 


For information about Carterwood’s services and approach, please telephone 08458 690777 or email info@carterwood.co.uk. 


Share news:
By using this form you agree with the storage and handling of your data by this website.

Please be assured we never share your data without your permission. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.