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Survey finds social care workers feel valued, but not through their pay

Survey finds social care workers feel valued, but not through their pay

| Social Care Wales

Social care workers feel valued by the people and families they support. But they also feel undervalued by the public and underpaid for the work they do, according to our survey of the registered workforce.

While 76 per cent feel valued by those they care for, just 44 per cent say the same about the general public, and 48 per cent about partner agencies like health staff and police.

Only 26 per cent of registered people are satisfied with their current level of pay, and 33 per cent say they’re finding it difficult to manage financially.

We worked with a company called Opinion Research Services (ORS) to pilot the survey, which asked questions about things like health and well-being, pay and conditions, and what people like about working in the sector.

The survey was carried out between March and May 2023. In total, 3,119 social care workers (six per cent of the registered workforce) responded, from a wide range of roles.

We weighted the results to see what they could tell us about the views of the entire registered social care workforce in Wales.

Most say they started working in social care because they wanted to make a difference to people’s lives (63 per cent), but more than a quarter claim they’re likely to leave the sector in the next 12 months (26 per cent).

The most common reason given for expecting to leave in the next 12 months is low pay (66 per cent), while feeling overworked (54 per cent) and poor employment or working conditions (40 per cent) are also significant factors.

Despite the challenges being faced by social care workers, 65 per cent say their morale is good either all or most of the time.

Some of the other main findings included:

  • most people feel supported by their colleagues (78 per cent) and their manager (66 per cent) at least most of the time
  • most people feel they get the right training to do their job well (79 per cent) and think there are training opportunities available to them (75 per cent)
  • half (50 per cent) of all registered people who aren’t already in a leadership position believe it’d be possible for them to be a leader. This is higher than the proportion who said they'd like to be in a leadership position at some point in the future (36 per cent)
  • more than half agree that leaders in social care come from different backgrounds (53 per cent)
  • 45 per cent have some Welsh language ability
  • 82 per cent are finding it 'slightly' or 'a lot' more difficult to manage financially than a year ago
  • 44 per cent feel at least ‘quite likely’ to leave the sector in the next five years
  • those in senior or managerial roles say availability of staff (72 per cent) and quality of candidates applying (72 per cent) are the biggest reported challenges in recruitment.

We also found that 37 per cent of registered people had experienced bullying, discrimination or harassment at work. We’re working to find out more about the nature of these experiences and how we and our partners can best provide support.

We split the overall results into three groups based on roles to see how each responded. The groups were care workers, social workers and social care managers.

The survey found:

  • 38 per cent of social workers are dissatisfied with their current job
  • 77 per cent of social workers say that having too much work or not having enough time to do it causes stress at work
  • most care workers (66 per cent) say their job gives them a feeling of work well done at least most of the time
  • only half of care workers receive sick pay
  • around half of social care managers (49 per cent) work 40 or more hours a week.

You can see an overview of the grouped findings on our dedicated page.

The survey was the first of its kind and, combined with our workforce data collections, gives us an insight into working in social care we haven’t had before.

We’ll use the findings to inform the support and services we offer, as well as the work of partner organisations.

We’ll hold the survey again next year so that we can monitor trends over time.

Deputy Minister for Social Services Julie Morgan said: “The outstanding commitment of our social care workforce has shone throughout the survey. However, the survey’s findings reinforce that there is much more to do to ensure our workforce feel valued and have the best possible support available.

“We know that making a difference to people’s lives is the main drive for the workforce and I am saddened that they feel undervalued by some. We are absolutely committed to working in partnership with the sector to address the findings within the report, including improving pay, terms and conditions and addressing recruitment and retention issues.”

Sue Evans, our chief executive, said “These survey results expose the fantastic commitment of our social care workforce to make a difference to people’s lives, but also the incredible pressures they work under, not helped by a perceived lack of recognition and low pay.

“I believe this is a real call to action for all of us in social care to do more to support our vital workforce.

“There is much being done by Government, ourselves and others, but we need to learn from these results to improve our support for this vital group of workers.”

Find out more

Read about more of our findings and download the full report.