The scale and reasons of poverty‐pay among care workers

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Demographic trends escalate the demands for formal long‐term care (LTC ) in the majority of the developed world. The LTC workforce is characterised by its very low wages, the actual scale of which is less well known. This article investigates the scale of poverty‐pay in the feminised LTC sector and attempts to understand the perceived reasons behind persisting low wages in the sector. The analysis makes use of large national workforce pay data and a longitudinal survey of care workers, as well as interviews with key stakeholders in the sector. The analysis suggests that there are at least between 10 and 13% of care workers who are effectively being paid under the National Minimum Wage in England. Thematic qualitative analysis of 300 interviews with employers, care workers and service users highlight three key explanatory factors of low pay: the intrinsic nature of LTC work, the value of caring for older people, and marketisation and outsourcing of services.

Hussein, S. (2017) ‘We don’t do it for the money’…  The scale and reasons of poverty-pay among frontline long term care workers in England. Health and Social Care in the Community. 25(6): 1817-1826.

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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.