The diversity of staff supporting family carers in England: Findings from an analysis of a national data set

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Little is known about those employed to support family carers of disabled people or those with long-term care needs. The term ‘carer’ is used in England to refer to family members and others who provide unpaid regular and substantial support to adults with disabilities, including older people and others unable to live independently.

Among the wider social care workforce, some staff are employed to provide support for these carers, but little is known about the composition and characteristics of this group of staff. The findings reported in this article are derived from a quantitative secondary analysis of the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC; n = 499 034), which collects data from social care employers and reports to Skills for Care. This data set includes information about the characteristics of the workforce employed to support carers and the organisations that employ them to do so.

Our analysis showed that this support workforce is mostly female, with a large number of part-time employees who are based in organisations with significantly higher turnover and vacancy rates than other organisations which provide social care. Staff who support family carers appear to be better qualified and to have long experience within the care sector than other social care workers. From these findings we conclude that this support workforce may be affected by staff shortages themselves and that high staff turnover rates may undermine the continuity of support given to family carers, leading to problems for existing staff. We argue that developing the potential of social care staff to support family carers requires specific attention from social care employers and policymakers.

Hussein, S. and Manthorpe, J. (2012) The diversity of staff supporting family carers in England: findings from an analysis of a national data set. Diversity & Equality in Health and Care, 9 (2): 101-111. 

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Professor of Health and Social Care Policy, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK

Professor Shereen Hussein is a Professor of Health and Social Care Policy at the Department of Health Services Research and Policy (HSRP) at the LSHTM. She is a Co-Director of the PRUComm policy research unit. She is also an Honorary Professor at the University of Kent and King’s College London in the UK and the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

Shereen is a demographer with expertise in labour-migration, sociology and economics. Her primary research revolves around ageing, family dynamics, migration and long-term care. Shereen has previously worked with the United Nations, the Population Council, the World Bank, and the League of Arab States. Her current research focuses on ageing demographics, long term care demand and migration within the UK and Europe and the implications on policy and practice.

Shereen has conducted extensive research on population ageing and impact on long term care and health policy and practices in the UK, internationally and in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. She has contributed to recent United Nations’ policy response to ageing in the region through collaboration with UN-ESCWA and directly providing expert consultations to several countries in the region including Turkey, Oman and Egypt. Shereen leads many large research projects on ageing and long-term care in the UK and contributes to a large project addressing responses to dementia in developing countries STRiDE. Shereen is the founder and lead of the MENARAH network.