Social care applications – a worrying trend?

Social care applications – a worrying trend?

What is happening with social care applications?

Concerns are growing in the social care sector for a number of reasons.

Social care was conspicuously missing from the Queen’s speech last week – a weak mention about proposals being brought forward – no legislation until at least 2022.

There are also worrying reports of social care applications seeing a noticeable decline – coinciding with the hospitality sector ramping up recruitment ahead of further lifting of Covid restrictions.

Here at Cohesion between March and April we reported a marginal decrease in applications of around 3% but for some organisations this has been more pronounced. In some instances, there has been a decrease in applications of between 15% and 35%. That said, other areas have bucked the trend reporting an increase in applications by almost 20%.

There are many factors that can influence application numbers, including the offering that providers are able to advertise and the competition in the market at that point of advertising (not only with other care providers). That said, we do expect the market to be unsettled over the Summer months as we see other sectors reopen.

The media also made reference to hospitality struggling to fill their 355,000 vacancies due to people choosing to move into retail for greater security and many European staff heading back to their home countries. This has led to increasing hospitality salaries; one reported figure of £22,000 a year for a bar worker and some waiters commanding nearly £15 an hour in London and surrounding areas. According to latest industry statistics (Feb 2021) the average care salary is between £8.91 and £9.50 an hour. Care companies are competing not only with each other to fill roles but also other industries.

What would you tell candidates to make your roles stand out, and ensure they want to work for you in a care role rather than working in hospitality or retail? What do you offer that they won’t get anywhere else? How do you make your job advert stand out in the crowd?

At Cohesion we believe that care is a rewarding role unlike any other. One positive thing that we have seen as a result of the Covid pandemic is an increase in social conscience – ‘The Captain Tom’ effect, has encouraged people to support their community, particularly those in need. This, as well as more people being involved in their loved ones’ care has sparked an interest in care role that may not have previously been seen. There is also great job stability in care – we will always need dedicated, care and support workers. Providers getting this right are also able to offer flexible working, offering shifts that slot around other life commitments for carers.

All of these points should be shared as part of your attraction strategy when recruiting. Particularly, we think care organisations should highlight the possibility of career progression that roles in care offer. The opportunities for acquiring training and new qualifications in care is vast and this could be a real attraction point for candidates looking for a career for life over a job for now.

Other attraction techniques to consider are;

  1. Get involved with Care Home Open Week this year – running from the 28th June to the 4th of July. This virtual event can help showcase your home, encourage volunteers (who may become care staff further down the line) and allow your staff to share the positives of working in care. You can find out more information and sign up here:
  2. Consider offering a carer profile to applicants – care character is an assessment tool designed specifically for the care sector. It provides candidates and hiring managers with an in depth profile based on their aptitudes within the 7 qualities of care. We are currently offering a trial – use care character for your next two hires at no cost.
  3. Consider engaging with early talent to fill frontline care gaps. The Kickstart Scheme provides funding to create new job placements for 16-24 year olds on Universal Credit who are at risk of long term unemployment. NCF and Cohesion are collaborating to provide a unique package of support for those mentoring Kickstart employees who join your organisation. For more information please email

Once you have attracted staff into the role the next big concern is retention – the care industry has a high turnover rate compared to some other industries. We believe there is a storm brewing as the country begins to re-open post-pandemic and it is time to act.

We will be holding a free online retention event on 1st July to delve into the statistics from our exit and retention surveys conducted with thousands of care teams over the last 12 months and sharing some suggestions. You can sign up here:

Sign up to Cohesion’s retention event 1st July






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