Martin Ford 27 July 2022

Ofsted calls for social care workforce strategy

Ofsted calls for social care workforce strategy  image
Image: ABO PHOTOGRAPHY / Shutterstock.com

Ofsted has joined calls for a workforce strategy for social care, saying the need is ‘more urgent than ever’.

The watchdog has published a report looking at the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on children’s social care, taking evidence from inspections, focus groups and inspectors.

It found the pandemic has exacerbated ‘long-standing staffing challenges’ and some services have still not been fully reinstated or are running at a lower capacity.

Ofsted said high levels of agency social workers and high caseloads are ‘preventing purposeful work with children and families’.

They found concern among local authorities that the cost of living crisis will lead to higher numbers of children in need and child protection cases, exacerbating existing workforce issues.

The report highlights gaps in provision for mental health needs and therapeutic and respite services for disabled children.

Children are also living in places where their needs are not being met, at times in unregistered homes without regulatory oversight.

Ofsted chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: ‘Children’s social care has been plagued by workforce challenges for some time. But we have seen these issues accelerate in recent years, with more social workers moving to agency contracts, and residential workers leaving the sector entirely.

‘As a result, too many children, with increasingly complex needs, are not getting the help they need. A workforce strategy and improved support for disabled children and those with mental health needs, and their families, are more urgent than ever.’

An NHS Confederation survey this week found nine in 10 hospital leaders cited a lack of ‘appropriate and timely’ social care pathways for patients as having the biggest impact in A&E.

It has urged the Government to increase investment in care services, including boosting wages for care workers.

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