AN ‘OUTSTANDING’ care provider in Trafford has failed to fill a single vacancy in a hunt for new care workers.

Beloved Homecare provides care at home for elderly residents in the borough and is looking for new staff members.

Trafford has been struggling since before the pandemic with a shortage of staff and high staff turnover in its care sector.

In February 2020, the North West Job Centre released figures revealing the borough was struggling to fill care worker vacancies and keep carers in their roles, and it was made a priority by Trafford Council to encourage people to embark on a career in care more than a year ago.

Now, research conducted by the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) has found the pandemic has exacerbated long-standing issues of recruitment and retention in the sector, with demand for services rising and more people leaving the sector due to ‘low pay and burnout’.

Beloved Homecare believes that people in and around Trafford are missing out on ‘rewarding careers in care because of the negative image of the industry’.

The Trafford-based home care agency, one of only three rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission in Greater Manchester, has been unable to fill any of its seven currently open carer vacancies, despite offering a salary of around £25,000, training and possible career progression into management.

An independent poll commissioned by Beloved Homecare revealed that 1,502 UK adults believed professional home carers earned less on average than those operating in retail, hospitality or working as flight attendants.

Only 8 percent believed home carers earned more on average.

Beloved Homecare Managing Director Mark Collier said: “I’m genuinely shocked that we haven’t received a much broader range of candidates for roles that offer a competitive salary, and genuine opportunities to learn and progress into management.

“But we’ve been unable to fill a single home carer vacancy in over two months, and it’s becoming a big headache for us, as it’s limiting our future growth potential.”

Mark explained that 80 per cent of the applications the agency receives are immediately ruled out because people either can’t drive or are unable or unwilling to work alternate weekends – or they live too far away.

He said many of the remaining 20 per cent ‘lack the verbal communications skills required when caring for older people.’

He added: “Despite widespread gratitude and praise for carers during the pandemic, in reality there's still a general perception that caring is the bottom of the economic ladder or career food chain – something you do when you can’t do anything else.  The industry is now blighted by a poor image.”

Mark said this wasn’t the case at Beloved Homecare, where carers are well trained and on average earn around £25,000 plus bonuses.

On average, an entry level flight attendant will earn less than £21,000.

Karen Perrin from Trafford, joined Beloved Homecare in September 2020.

Karen said: “I’d worked in retail and hospitality jobs for years, and always thought of myself as a people person, but with the instability and redundancies in these markets I decided to apply to become a home carer.

“I think that with the right support and training from your employer you can make a real difference, not only to an individual’s life, but to their whole family.

“I’ve found it an extremely rewarding experience so far, and I’ve become very close to some of the families I work with. There's nothing like coming home after a shift knowing you've helped someone feel, safe, comfortable and happy.”

Mark continued: “Beloved’s staff turnover is also low. There’s no doubt that many home carers have been heroes over the last 18 months, and we want to do our part in changing attitudes, but I believe the best way we can do that is by offering a genuine, rewarding alternative to the perceptions of minimum wages and zero hour contracts.

“Like Karen, candidates need not have a background in care, but must have the right attitude and aptitude: be caring and empathic – but also be a good communicator, punctual and well organised. The rest we can teach.

“If you are a naturally caring and sociable person, this could be a really rewarding and stable career opportunity for you.

“It’s so important that our industry is able to competitively recruit talent, as demand for care is rapidly increasing due to our ageing population, and an ongoing shortage will see more older people forced out of their homes and into residential care.”