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SOCIAL CARE: Local Authority Adult Social Care Recruitment and Retention research project

Lead: Dr Andy Pulman Post Doctoral Researcher


What is the purpose of this research?

The purpose of this study will be to explore local recruitment (employing people as adult social care staff) and retention (providing a working environment where they want to stay) issues in adult social care from the perspective of four populations of interest:

1.    Social care practitioners currently working in two local LAs - Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) and Dorset.

2.    Social care staff with responsibility for performing exit interviews with LA staff (prior to their leaving the LA) currently working in two local LAs - BCP and Dorset.

3.    Students currently enrolled in social care undergraduate and postgraduate programmes (within the Wessex region) who might enter the adult social care workforce locally once qualified.

4.    Service users with lived experience of receiving services in BCP or Dorset/advocates drawn from Wessex Region Local Authority contracted services and the impacts of practitioner retention in relation to use of these services.

Why is this research important?

Over the last few years, people working in adult social care have been affected by cuts to finances and the ongoing impacts of the Brexit vote and the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent data has noted that recruiting people to work in social care and adult social care – providing help for those adults with care and support needs or who have caring responsibilities - is proving to be more difficult than it used to be. Keeping people happy in their job so that they don’t want to leave is also more difficult. For example, more experienced staff are leaving and some staff no longer want to stay in one place for a long time. Topics like stress and burnout are being mentioned more than before by those working in social care.


Local authorities across the UK and regionally in Dorset would like to understand more about why people want to come into adult social care as a career and once they’ve arrived, how can it be made a more attractive place to stay. Also why do they want to leave and where do they go afterwards? Data collected will help inform future workforce development work undertaken by both LAs (plans around how they bring staff in and keep them happy in their job) and contribute important research data to both the regional and national picture in adult social care.


Design and methods

1.    We will collect information from people in populations of interest 1, 2 and 3 from an online survey which they complete and then by asking some of them questions during a smaller number of interviews.

2.    We will collect information from people in population of interest 4 by asking them questions and letting them chat to each other in small friendly group discussions (called a focus group).

3.    We will learn about the barriers faced and ways in which they might be avoided in terms of encouraging people to come and work in adult social care, keeping staff happy and wanting to stay working in their organisation.


How will patients and the public be involved?

As a part of population of interest 4, service users who currently receive services in BCP or Dorset and advocates drawn from Wessex Region Local Authority contracted services will be invited to participate in focus groups to talk informally about the impacts of staff retention in relation to the services they use (for example have they seen lots of different people carrying out the same role in relation to their care over a period of time and if so what effect has this had on the care they received).


How will the study results be shared?

We will pass our findings locally to representatives from both LAs taking part in the study who will be able to see how things could be done differently to make a positive difference that could impact on the quality of services – what we call service improvement. They can then use the information to make changes to the way things currently are.


We will also share findings from this study as one of a series of research learning opportunities across the Wessex region which showcase current social care research projects within the region to others. The aim is to build research understanding within the wider social care practitioner population.


We will also share the results with our regional funders who will be able to use the data obtained to feed into regional and national work around improving the areas of recruitment and retention.

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