Bar chart showing drop in filled adult social care jobs

Latest figures, published in October, show the number of care workers in England fell for the first time and the number of empty care roles was up by more than half.

The industry body, Skills for Care, found in the year to March 2022 there were 1.79 million posts in adult social care, of which 165,000 were vacant – a rise of 52% on the previous year.

It said the number of filled posts fell by 50,000 compared with the previous year – the first drop ever.

These figures referred both to staff in care homes and workers who support people in their own homes.

Among Ms Purnell’s workforce is carer Nicole Greenaway.

The 24-year-old from Crick says she wanted to work in the sector after being a carer for a family.

Since starting the role two years ago, she enjoys the satisfaction of helping people with their day-to-day needs.

“You’re their extra limb and you’re there just for conversation and the chat and housework and so forth.

“I would say we could probably do with more recognition from the government because we are doing an amazing job as it is, but it’s a job I enjoy more than anything,” she says.

‘People don’t understand how hard it is’

Emi Iancu, of Ipswich, started working in a care home in 2019 and says at first it was a “pleasure to go to work”.

But the 31-year-old says after the pandemic and Brexit,it started to be “more difficult” and he was effectively doing “two jobs in one night”.

Married father-of-one Mr Iancu says he left his job as a carer in December to work at Felixstowe docks as a tug worker where he now earns £13,000 more.

“Working with residents was very rewarding, very nice, but sometimes I had hot cups of tea spilled on me, I was punched and slapped.

“People don’t understand how hard it is”.

Mr Iancu says other members of staff would breakdown as they were struggling to cope with the workload and he was often a shoulder for them to cry on.

Mr Iancu says his new job at the port gives him the opportunity to save money and provide for his wife Laura and their two-year-old daughter Ayla.

He says wages for care work are “ridiculous” and the pay needs to be increased to attract and retain people.

Although he has left the industry, he says he might one day return to work as a carer.

“It all depends what’s happening in the future,” he added.

‘People are leaving in droves’

For Tina Judd, she found working as a community carer took too much of a toll on her physical and mental health.

But the 55-year-old from Henley, near Ipswich, remains in the care sector.

She became a carer because she lost her mum five years ago and had loved looking after her.

After 18 months in the role, however, the “very busy, very long and unsociable hours” took their toll.

She says “hidden problems” added to the pressure, including traffic jams, roadworks and diversions between calls.

Ms Judd went into caring because she lost her mum five years ago and she says she “loved caring for my mum”

Ms Judd decided “enough was enough” when she was “too exhausted and too shattered” to enjoy time off.

She decided to take a job in sheltered housing instead which she describes as “absolutely wonderful”.