Opinion

Social care time bomb

Why opt for a career in a distressingly low-paid job?
Social care time bomb

Why opt for a career in a distressingly low-paid job?

Social care is a vital service enabling those most vulnerable to remain in their own homes and communities. Care staff do a fantastic job in supporting the families and carers too, providing them with respite in what can be a 24/7 and lonely role.

But why do people opt for a career in social care when it remains one of the most distressingly low-paid jobs?

I fear the care sector will become crippled from a lack of workers to meet the care needs of our ageing population

Care staff are often looked on with disdain by health professionals, whereas healthcare offers clearly identifiable pathways. At an early age, I knew I wanted to go into nursing. Social care staff do not have the same opportunities.

Shortfall of care

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Why opt for a career in a distressingly low-paid job?


Picture: iStock

Social care is a vital service enabling those most vulnerable to remain in their own homes and communities. Care staff do a fantastic job in supporting the families and carers too, providing them with respite in what can be a 24/7 and lonely role.

But why do people opt for a career in social care when it remains one of the most distressingly low-paid jobs? 

‘I fear the care sector will become crippled from a lack of workers to meet the care needs of our ageing population’ 

Care staff are often looked on with disdain by health professionals, whereas healthcare offers clearly identifiable pathways. At an early age, I knew I wanted to go into nursing. Social care staff do not have the same opportunities. 

Shortfall of care workers

Employers rely heavily on low-skilled migrants from across the world to address the shortfall of care workers. With Brexit negotiations underway, we are facing a ticking time bomb. One in five care workers are migrants. Unless care work is made more attractive to Britons and to those migrants allowed in the country, we face a huge shortage in care staff – as well as a country in turmoil and unable to look after its most vulnerable citizens. 

‘Social care is treated like the second cousin twice removed in comparison to healthcare staff. This has to change’

I fear the care sector will become crippled from a lack of workers to meet the care needs of our ageing population. 

Greater parity

We entrust our loved ones with one of the lowest-paid employee groups. Social care staff are not treated on the same level as healthcare workers. Greater parity is needed. 

The government needs to do more to encourage people to work in the social care and voluntary sectors through apprenticeships, and encouraging older people who have retired relatively early into these fields. 

Social care is treated like the second cousin twice removed in comparison to healthcare staff. This has to change.


Paulette Hamilton is Labour cabinet member for health and social care, Handsworth Wood Ward, Birmingham, and is also chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board, Birmingham

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