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To begin, I would like to declare a couple of interests. My partner owns a communications consultancy that works in health and social care. Both my parents were nurses. My father managed residential nursing homes until he retired, while my mother was a deputy sister in a residential home, caring for people with dementia.
I would like to focus my remarks on those who work in social care and what we might do to improve the recruitment and retention of staff. In my mind, much of it lies in the value we attach to those who work in the profession. Many of my constituents work in social care, and the profession is just as important as our NHS in helping to support our community. Those working in care homes and in the community across my city and the country should know that they are valued, just as we value our hard-working doctors and nurses. I know how hard the staff in care homes work each and every day. It is often a job that goes without much reward. Pay can be low, and recognition is often lacking, but it is critical.
The National Audit Office estimates that 1.3 million people do these jobs. The Centre for Workforce Intelligence has suggested that an extra 660,000 careworkers will be needed by 2035 if we are to keep pace with demand for care. When we consider that more than a third of staff switch jobs or move out of the sector each year, we begin to see the challenge. Those are worrying figures for families who rely on this service. Why do we have a problem with recruiting and retaining social care staff? Pay is clearly a factor, but it is not the only one. Too often, the profession is held in low esteem, which makes it difficult for some providers to recruit and retain staff.