25 Feb 2014
A care assistant from Bradford is spearheading a campaign to address the drastic shortage of staff in the care sector.
Sheila Wardman, 66, who works at Springfield care home in Western Way, hopes to encourage job seekers to join the care sector to meet the demands of Britain’s ageing population.
She has launched the campaign in Yorkshire to mark a report issued by Anchor and the International Longevity Centre which has found 40 per cent of the projected increase in England’s working age population will need to enter the care profession to tackle a staffing timebomb. If current trends continue, England could face a shortfall of 718,000 care workers by 2025, and an unprecedented number of men are needed to bridge the gap.
Sheila said that as Britain’s population aged, dementia was going to be more prevalent. At present there are more than 64,160 people in Yorkshire who have been diagnosed or are likely to have dementia. According to Age UK, the number of people living with dementia in the UK is expected to rise to one million by 2025.
She said men needed to join the care sector in order for the country to cope with this increase in older people needing care. Women currently make up 82 per cent of the care workforce and whereas just 4.2 per cent of working men work in health and social care, nearly one in six women (15.5%) work in the sector.
Additional research conducted by Anchor found that 98 per cent of young people in Yorkshire aged 16 to 25 agree care is a suitable profession for a man but 40% of them say they had not considered becoming a carer.
However, more than a quarter (26%) of young people in Yorkshire said they would consider a job as a carer if there was a more positive public perception of the role.
The report found that older people looking for a career change later in life needed to join the care sector. Three quarters (75%) of over 50s said they have never considered a career in care but 47 per cent would be persuaded into a career in care if they knew they would be supported by training.
Sheila, who has worked for Springfield care home for 10 years, said she was proud to work in care and would encourage other people of all ages to join the sector.
She said: “I was surprised older workers didn’t realise the benefits of working in care.
“I would recommend care as a career precisely because there is plenty of regular training which helps me do my job well and there’s flexibility of hours. I’ve been able drop your hours to suit my lifestyle.
“But the reason I love my job is because I like caring for older people, helping them get the best out of life. I enjoy spending time with them talking about their lives. And when I go home, I always feel I’ve done a good job helping them.”
She added that society had to address the workforce timebomb otherwise older people of the future faced a life without care.
Sheila said: “The care sector needs to attract a wider range of staff: young and old, and we need more men to consider care as a potential career – particularly as men are living longer. Our workforce should reflect the diversity of our residents.”