Specialist business property adviser, Christie & Co has published its fourth annual report on adult social care. The report highlights the sector’s continued funding and staffing challenges, as well as the causes and impacts of winter 2017/18 which saw unprecedented levels of pressure on NHS hospital trusts, with 24 trusts reporting a ‘Code Black’ state across the UK.
The report, ‘Adult Social Care 2018: Funding, Staffing and the Winter Crisis’, also presents data gathered from surveys of local authorities and over 200 leading operators across elderly and specialist care in the UK, particularly looking at the use of agency staff, costs and fees, and how the Government’s additional funding has been utilised.
The 2018 report outlines the continued challenges the sector faces in both recruiting and retaining trained staff. Whilst the removal of the cap on Tier 2 visas for overseas nurses is a positive development, we observed a 13% drop in total nurse registrations. Uncertainty over Brexit has had a material impact on EU nurse registrations which fell by 87% compared with 2016/17 figures.
While favourable immigration policies and overseas nurses are key in helping bridge the current gap, the ability to train and retain UK nurses remains a key issue. Our report highlights that 30% of undergraduate students do not complete their nursing degrees.
Our operator survey responses showed that agency staff are becoming more expensive, despite 69% of elderly care operators reporting that they managed to hold or reduce agency staff usage. In specialist care, agency usage has gone up marginally whilst overall agency costs have fallen, indicating that agency staff are being used for lower paid support staff roles in specialist care, as opposed to more expensive, trained nursing staff.
Both our operator and local authority surveys have shown reasonable overall levels of fee increases, albeit for elderly care, these fall below the average fee rate increases shown in our 2017 report. Our surveys show that considerable regional variation continues, with funding remaining a critical issue as we await the anticipated Government Green Paper this autumn.