We’re going to need a third more care workers in the next decade

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray

Dementia Awareness Open Day at Halsey House in Cromer. Care assistant John Rogers with resident Ray Lawrence. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

It is a job like no other.

And for those who choose care work as their career path they take great pride in allowing people who need help to maintain their independence, dignity and control.

But with an increasing elderly population in our region - above the national average - the sector looks set to have less people working in health and social care, just when it is needed the most.

Nationally, it is estimated that there will be a 33pc increase in demand for those working in health and social care by 2030.

Already in Norfolk and Suffolk some 71,000 people are already employed in the sector.

Harold Bodmer.

Harold Bodmer. - Credit: Archant

But nearly a quarter of all care workers are expected to reach retirement age in the next decade - without the necessary numbers of care workers entering the profession - and staying in it - to replace them.

That is without taking into consideration the number of unpaid carers, without whom social services would be overwhelmed.

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Of course, this opens up an exciting opportunity for anyone looking for a new direction, and could lead to a more satisfying career.

Last year the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) drew up three priorities to tackle the issues:

Health and Social Care Jobs Fair at the Victoria Hotel, Lowestoft. Organisers Louise Whitley and Emm

Health and Social Care Jobs Fair at the Victoria Hotel, Lowestoft. Organisers Louise Whitley and Emma White. - Credit: Nick Butcher

• To get and keep more people into the health and social care sector;

• To recruit and keep more registered nurses in nursing homes

• To support the retention for aspiring and registered managers and owners.

In their report, Louise Whitley, manager at Suffolk Brokerage, said: 'Our assessment of the situation is that there is an increasing lack of suitable and interested people considering a career in care which is directly related to the economic upturn.

'I would go so far as to say that we are on the edge of recruitment crisis in this county, especially in domiciliary care.'

Harold Bodmer, who was then director of community services at Norfolk County Council but has since sadly died, added: 'The adult social care sector is facing significant challenges, nationally and in Norfolk.

'We have an ageing population and an increasing number of people living with dementia, so demand for social care support is set to increase. Coupled with this, local government budgets are shrinking and the way social care support is provided is being reviewed and modernised at a national level, so there is a lot for us and other care providers in the independent and voluntary sector to adjust to.'

In the last year, the situation is thought to have improved, but it is still key that more people take on the rewarding career.

Despite issues with levels of pay, contracts, negative perceptions of caring and working hours many people are attracted to caring and once there intend to stay in the profession.

And the main reason people come into the sector in the first place is helping and supporting others.

For John Rogers, a care worker at Danbury Lodge at the Royal British Legion's Halsey House in Cromer, Norfolk, it is both rewarding and challenging.

Mr Rogers said: 'You have to be passionate about the job you do and see it more as a lifestyle.

'You never know what you may deal with day-to-day but I wouldn't change it for the world as I'm lucky to interact with some amazing and unique people.'

Those in care work help people in their own homes, in residential homes or in a number of other places such as day centres or supported housing.

But as new ways of working are developed and strategies put in place to firm up future provision, the number of opportunities is only set to grow.

In Norfolk, this financial year, there is £260m to be invested in adult social care, in Suffolk £196m will be spend.

It is hoped this investment will help to kickstart the social care job market in the region.

• To search for social care jobs in Norfolk, click here, or for Suffolk click here.

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