Belsize Village, London, UK: Following the release of the National Audit Office’s new report on the ongoing recruitment crisis in social care in England, Penrose Care’s managing director, Robert Stephenson-Padron, who has been an outspoken advocate of improving the attractiveness of careers in social care, made the following public statement:
Penrose Care praises the National Audit Office for highlighting the severe difficulties England’s social care sector faces hiring new care workers. We would note the NAO’s history of promoting reform in social care, notably in 2014 when it shed light on poor enforcement of the national minimum wage in the home care sector.
We’re proud that the sad description of care workers as being undervalued with little opportunity for career progression by the NAO report authors does not apply to Penrose Care.
Penrose Care offers its care workers a variety of ethical labour standards – the London Living Wage as a minimum wage rate has been our core commitment since we established in 2012, as well as payment for travel time, overtime for nights, weekends and bank holidays; the minimum wage plus for sleep-ins, the costs of training and criminal checks borne by us not our workers, and the payment of wages for training time. Overtime, working with Citizens UK and informed by research done by Unison, we rolled out further ethical labour standards: an occupational sickpay scheme (substantially over and above what is required by statute), guaranteed minimum hours of work, a pension scheme, and free taxis home for workers leaving work after 21:00 to help ensure their safety and reduce stress.
Penrose Care’s ethical labour standards, with the London Living Wage as an anchor, have in my view allowed us to attract and retain some of the most talented social care professionals in the country.
With respect to the NAO’s concern over difficulties of the sector recruiting registered managers, Penrose Care would highlight that our guaranteeing minimum hours, which brings some front line workers into the office at times to assist, has allowed us to identify management talent from the front line. We’re proud that currently we have two colleagues at Penrose Care pursuing the qualification needed to be a registered manager, and both of them started at Penrose Care as front line home care workers.
However, challenges with recruitment remain. Since the Brexit vote in the summer or 2016, we have had to spend money to find new applicants whereas before we attracted them organically and we have seen a spike in new recruits not passing our probationary periods, demonstrating that finding quality new recruits is even more difficult.
Where organisations like Penrose Care need a cross-civil society togetherness and push is in working to raise the way society sees social care. I absolutely love working in social care. It is the most rewarding and intellectually challenging work I have done in my life. We as a society, and indeed a world, need to get this message out. We can provide good labour standards but that is only part of the solution, we need to build up a profession that appeals better to persons planning their careers and those looking for more rewarding careers.
- On December 8, 2017, Robert Stephenson-Padron spoke about the social care recruitment crisis on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show. Some comments can be found here.
- On September 21, 2016, Robert Stephenson-Padron spoke abou tthe social care recruitment crisis on BBC Radio 4’s Today program. The clip can be listened to here.
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About Penrose Care
Penrose Care is an ethical provider of home care services London, United Kingdom to adults with disabilities and elderly persons, including those with dementia. The company operates upon a fundamental belief that to promote a caring workforce, the organisation itself must be caring. As the pioneer of ethics in home care in the UK, Penrose Care in 2012 became one of the first four providers in the country to become an Accredited Living Wage Employer and in 2013 the first independent sector provider to be compliant with Citizens UK’s landmark Social Care Charter. Penrose Care was named the Living Wage Champion for the London region in 2016 by the Living Wage Foundation.
Penrose Care’s ethical approach promotes higher quality social care workers and low staff turnover which in turn results in excellent care. Penrose Care is headquartered in Belsize Village, north London and was founded by Robert Stephenson-Padron, a healthcare research analyst, and Dr. Matthew Knight, a hospital physician.