Northern Ireland’s Social Care Workforce Regulator has called for this crucial sector to be recognised as one of national strategic importance following the publication of two major reports examining the challenges and opportunities for the social care workforce in Northern Ireland.
For the first time ever, service providers and key employers, along with the Northern Ireland Social Care Council (NISCC), have come together to produce these important reports and contribute to a conversation about how a more collective vision in social care might be achieved. Widely acknowledged, through the reports, that the Social Care Sector is undervalued, NISCC and its partners set out the need for a regional approach to build a sustainable workforce that will best support its development and help improve skills, competency and confidence.
Speaking at the launch of the reports; ‘Social Care Matters’ and ‘Assessing the Economic Value of the Adult Social Care Sector’, NISCC Chief Executive, Colum Conway (pictured) said: “The Social Care workforce is our most valuable asset. To underestimate its value to society and its contribution to the transformation of our services will be to our detriment.
“Supporting employment for over 100,000 people, the Social Care Sector makes a vital contribution to the citizens of Northern Ireland. It helps people live as independently as possible, protects people from harm in vulnerable situations and offers essential help at times of crisis. Its value is also evident on the impact it has on reducing delayed discharge, avoidable admissions and inappropriate long stays in hospital.
“However, the contribution it makes to the economic growth in Northern Ireland – through jobs, through business, through skills development and through community cohesion is often overlooked. As the largest part of the health and social care workforce, with 34,000 registered staff (4% of NI workforce), it is estimated that a further 9,000 jobs through more than 500 employers are supported here. With the local economy benefiting by £821M per annum, the sector is therefore integral to both the social and economic wellbeing of Northern Ireland.
“As pressures and demands increase; with an aging population, a rise in complex and long term conditions and a reduction in public sector resources, the time is now for local and central government, providers of social care and those engaged in supporting business development, to take collective leadership and work in partnership to invest in a sustainable social care workforce for the future.”