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Building the social care workforce of the future through enhanced flexible working

A radical overhaul is needed to solve the UK’s ‘crisis in care’. But one small part of the problem is this: care workers struggle with the demanding, fragmented nature of their work schedules. Timewise looked at how this might be fixed.

Domiciliary care roles have a reputation for offering flexible work that will suit people (mainly women) with their own family caring responsibilities. However, the flexibility on offer is often ‘poor flexible work’. Zero hours contracts bring unpredictability and insecurity, while the ‘flexible hours’ that are available are mostly at unsociable times – early mornings, evenings and weekends, which are prime times when carers need to be with their own families.

Timewise teamed up with London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (LBBD) to explore what carers say they need to make the job fit better for them. Our aim was to provide insight as to how small changes and greater transparency around the nature of working patterns could potentially enhance retention during the first few months of the job – a ‘crunch’ point when many new recruits realise the schedules are not a good fit.

We developed and tested a guide for carers with a focus on how to manage the realities of scheduling. Guidance for hiring managers was also produced, highlighting the need for transparency and support.

This project by Timewise and LBBD has reinforced previous evidence of the need to improve flexible working options for care workers, to make it a more attractive career choice.

Published February 2023

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