Carers head for the exit

The continual build up of pressure on care workers and managers is causing carers to head for door. Care workers are having to pick up overtime or people go without care. Managers are competing with others for a shrinking applicant pool. Is it any wonder people are heading for the exit?

Skills for Care estimates that the staff turnover rate of directly employed staff in 2018/19 was 30.8%, equating to 440,000 people leaving their jobs. 66% of those people moved into other care roles. However, 34% decided to leave care completely, which means social care lost 149,600 people.

Unappreciated Carer on fire escape exit

According to AgeUK we have an increasingly aging population. There are now 12 million people over 65 years old in the UK. It’s expected that in 2030 one in 5 people will be aged over 65 and people are living longer with an 85% increase of centenarians in just 15 years. All of this means, we need to attract more people into the care industry to deal with a growing demand.

Before we even start to make a dent in the employee growth numbers to deal with the coming demand, we need to attract 149,600 just to replace the people we have lost!

So, what is going wrong? Why are people leaving?

There are many reasons why people leave jobs. Sometimes they fall out with colleagues, sometimes the manager sucks and some time you just want a change of scenery. These are all very individual reasons and you would often get a job in a new home.

But to exit care entirely?

I left care once, in 2013 I decided I need to change. I went and worked for a bank.

Let me tell you about working for a bank… all anyone talks about is money! Big surprise, right?!! But seriously, all day every day… money, loans and targets. I found it very difficult being passionate about working in the bank. As much as they say they change people’s lives by giving them mortgages etc, they are earning a fairly health profit on these six figure loans.

Whereas in care, you make difference to people not just at key times of their lives but every single day. You don’t do it for commission, you do it because you want to.

It is safe to say I came scampering back to work in care 6 months after leaving. But others are leaving care permanently, people who feel just as passionately as I do but people that are pushed to the limit.

Why are carers exiting care?

A few contributing factors that I believe need must be addressed are;

  • Low Pay
  • Understaffed
  • Increasing Pressure for Continual Improvement
  • Zero hour Contracts

Low Pay

Care works are often paid the National Living Wage, which keeps care workers just above relative poverty. I have covered low pay in previous posts, check it out here next. 


Services that are short-staffed often push their care teams to do overtime. Which is a blessing when pay is low! But what if you have dependants?

It does not take many weeks of 5, 6 or 7 long days in a row, week in and out before burn out becomes a problem.

Increasing Pressure for Continual Improvement

A contentious point at times this one. But the Care Quality Commission requires that services continue to improve to achieve Outstanding. What I mean by this is, if today a home is rated Outstanding and we fast forwarded a year to their next inspection and they done everything the same, they would be graded as good. This would actually be a downgrade, they didn’t do anything differently, but they didn’t get better. Therefore, not Outstanding.

I want to see care homes improving with every inspection, of course I do. But what we are seeing is government continue to push down on funding and at the same time CQC raise the bar higher and higher.

This is causing an unbelievable amount of pressure on care managers, with ever more stretched resources.

How much time do they have for self-development as a leader? How can we expect care to offer great places to work without great leaders?

Zero Hour Contracts

These contracts, used correctly, are great for workers and employers, they offer genuine flexibility. However, they are abused at times but companies that should be offering guaranteed hour contracts. I have written a separate article about this here!

 There are many reasons why care workers leave care. The world is changing, and the pressures and values of people are changing. This blog will be continually added to as we learn.