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By Debbie le Quesne

The workforce capacity gap and the care cost quality equation

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The biggest component cost of delivering care is staffing. It’s fact that some local authorities do now recognise and agree with providers that quality staff often equates to quality care.

Retaining, training and recruiting the right people are also critical to good care standards.

Recently in my role with West Midlands Care Association I have been working with Birmingham and Worcester local authorities to establish the correlation between fees paid to providers and the number of safeguarding issues reported.

Currently we have no conclusive data but in due course we should have some conclusion, albeit on a very small national sample of local authorities.

The ongoing issue of staffing levels in care have never seemed to leave the headlines since the Francis Report highlighted not only the news-grabbing issues of ‘culture’ and ‘candour’ but also levels of staffing.

Clearly, shortfalls in staffing levels need to made apparent and making them easily accessible to service users in the residential and domiciliary markets could be a viable option, though for some, far from a popular course of action.

It would, however, certainly foster a more open debate around staffing levels and meeting patient need.

Social Care Partnerships, much like the one between Lancashire Care Association and its local county council, have gone public with recognising the links between cost, resident need and staffing and pledges have been made to debate the matter further. All good.

Care homes and home care providers are all facing the same key issues: Meeting ever-higher levels of need and disability in the context of a workforce capacity gap, and then we have commissioners who often have little understanding of provider costs, or are so dominated by budgetary targets they are not motivated to take them into account.

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