The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all professions across the world. Social care is one such sector that has had to adapt rapidly to the changing demand and needs of the people and communities they serve.
At Comensura we manage the supply of temporary workers on behalf of our customers. We spoke with three qualified social work recruitment specialists - Sanctuary Personnel, Liquid Personnel and Tripod Partners, and asked them how demand for social workers has been impacted over the last 12 weeks, what’s changed and their expectations for the future.
What we've seen:
Our experience of demand over this period has been that the number of existing assignments has remained relatively stable, with workers retained. Albeit with some exceptional requirements in the early parts of lockdown, as authorities have looked to safeguard service delivery. The demand for new qualified social work roles declined by over 26% in April to June, when compared to the same period in 2019.
Our panel interview:
Our experienced panel of qualified social work recruitment specialists were asked a series of questions in order to provide a full depth analysis of the current social work sector. Questions included has demand for social care changed in England and it's regions, are there new work requirements, what types of roles are being requested etc.
Read the full COVID-19 Recruitment Spotlight: Qualified Social Care report here.
The panel’s responses echoed our own experience, and provided some deeper insights into other outcomes, including new ways of working using digital tools such as whatsapp to communicate with children, as well significant issues that have resulted from lockdown due to substance misuse, drugs and alcohol.
The report we compiled also looks at how work requirements have changed. The lockdown period has seen the UK begin perhaps one of the most seismic shifts in working practices, with everybody that can work from home doing so. We asked the suppliers for their views on whether local authorities have embraced the change, particularly in relation to their use of temporary qualified care staff, and whether there may have been any challenges. The panel’s experience was that they had indeed managed to adapt, although whilst the majority of roles offered now involved some element of remote or home working as standard, there had been challenges in setting up new IT profiles for workers, as well as sourcing appropriate PPE.
With referrals traditionally spiking in September as children return to school from the summer break, we asked how demand for social workers may be affected in what has been a truly remarkable year for all. The panel raised concerns that ‘front door’ teams may be overwhelmed, given the extended break from school for many children and the pressures that the pandemic has created - pressure on incomes, increased tensions, struggling to support children with complex needs, or all sorts or other issues which aren’t as easily identified under ‘lockdown’ conditions.
What does the future hold:
With the imminent recession and its likely impact on so many families, the next few months will no doubt bring new challenges for local authorities. Positive partnership working between councils, managed service providers, suppliers and their workers will be critical in addressing these challenges. Given the obvious benefit of sharing knowledge across this sector, we will be returning to ask the views of our panel again in September.
For further information on our Managing Temporary and Permanent Recruitment framework, please get in touch with the team. For further recruitment guidance during COVID-19, view our framework resources.