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Essex County Council - Provider Hub
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Essex demographics

Essex has a population of 1.5 million, and is growing by around 10,000 people a year.  1 in 5 adults are 65+, which is higher than the England average. This equates to 20% of our population and predicted to increase to 25% by 2040.

A graph showing Essex's population by age demographic

Population characteristics from the ONS data sets mid year 2021

The workforce

  • 30,000 employees; care is one of the biggest employers in Essex.
  • In Essex we have 789 CQC regulated providers. There are an estimated 1,500 adults using direct payments recruiting their own staff.
  • Essex has approximately 39,000 total filled jobs in adult social care, working across the sector. Approximately 32,000 of these jobs are in the independent sector, of which 25,000 are in direct care roles, and 2,700 in managerial roles.
  • The vacancy rate in Essex for the independent sector all job types was 11%. This is above the England average (9.9%). The turnover rate in 2022/23 was 28.7% which equates to 8,400 leavers in Essex.

Workforce data from Skills For Care estimates 2022/23

To understand from the workforce’s perspective, we have conducted various forms of engagements and research to gather feedback from people working in care services.

We have learnt that 90% of people working in care sector are dedicated to their job, and they feel their work is making an impact on the care receiver and their families.

The biggest frustration is the low care worker pay compared to health colleagues and other industries, and this has a negative effect on attracting new and young people into care roles.

The other issue is the perception of care jobs, which are not recognised in line with Health roles. People don’t feel as valued or rewarded (financially) for the hard work they do.  The care sector is getting increasingly more complex, and workers need time and training to be able to deliver early interventions and preventions to minimise long term support needs.

More central funding is needed to support providers to address the recruitment and attraction of more people into care roles, and also support to retain the workforce.

“You need dedication to work in a caring role, but the job is very rewarding as I can make a difference everyday to the people I visit.”

“Carers need to be recognised as a profession and paid appropriately for it; care providers’ hands are tied as the amount commissioned barely covers the pay rate”

“Because we are expected to do far more than just care. The job is getting much harder”

“Because you are treated as lower class citizens. No one values what you do from the government down to the individuals’ families.”

People of Essex have told us that they want to have care and support that enables them to have their independence and control over their life.

Adults with disabilities say they want to:

  • be able to make choices 
  • get the care and support they need when they need it  
  • make people see them as they are, and what they can do, as well as what they can’t do 
  • be treated with respect  

We have been informed that there are too many faces when getting support. They want a system that is seamless across health and care. There are too many duplications, and this costs money and time.  People receiving care want to see continuity for a more personalised support.

We need technologies that allows for data and insight sharing between NHS and social care for more time to deliver efficient services.

Older people say they want to be supported by their family and friends in their community for as long as possible, but they realise their carers need support as well. We need robust tools for un-paid carers.

“Everybody's in a hurry. Life is one big hurry now. There's no time for that personal one to one care."

“I am not encouraged to be independent because there aren’t sufficient staff to support me, the staff around me are putting barriers in my way preventing me from being independent."

I want support with my choices, and I want to spend more time with my family because dying worries me most

“Help find appropriate supported housing and trained support workers for my daughter. Ask the people in charge of health, why they cannot support those with complex health needs that do not fit into their neat criteria”

We have engaged with our care market through numerous workshops, webinars, online surveys and questionnaires, and through regular communications via the Essex Provider Hub and weekly Provider Bulletins.

The main challenge for the care providers is recruitment of people with the right behaviour and values, and employing people that want to make a difference to our citizens.

Providers have told us they are struggling to retain staff, especially younger workers, because they are not able to sustain higher care worker wages. For example, in Extra Care Schemes a support worker is paid an average wage of £15 per hour and this amounts to 80% of the total cost for the provider.

We have learnt that providers are running their business on low staff and finding it very difficult to release staff for training and development.  They have expressed that there needs to be more funding and support from local authorities with implementation of new technologies.

Providers are concerned around equality and diversity issues towards the care workers from adults and their families as this is having an impact on the retention of workers. There needs to be a clear policy that applies to all.

“Agency staff are unwilling to move to permanent roles because they get more money on agency. Fuel costs are also a challenge. Local amenities are feeling the squeeze so its harder to get into work on public transport, relying on recruiting locally which is a challenge”

"Recruitment is our biggest problem, 10 people might apply for a job and only 1 turns up to the interview and they're not an appropriate candidate - we also need the correct staff."

"I appreciate the social workers are short staffed but we don't have allocated social workers any more, we are relying on the duty social worker which doesn't help when we need answers"

"I love what I do and I have excellent staff, a really good ops team"

Last updated: 11/12/2023