A recent study found that the number of over 85s needing 24-hour care is set to double by 2035. Meanwhile, the state pension age is set to rise to 67, reducing the army of informal carers who currently contribute £57 billion worth of care in the UK.
In 2015, there were 9.7 million people over 65. This is predicted to rise to 14.5 million by 2035. The UK’s care crisis is just beginning and we need to find a solution. Read on as we explore the question “who will carry out care work in the future”?
Councils could face a £3.5 billion shortfall in funding for social care by 2025.
Could automation be the answer?
47% of jobs in the US could be under threat of automation in the next two decades, according to Oxford academics Carl Frey and Michael Osborne. The predictions in their 2013 study on the impact of automation were echoed by the Bank of England’s chief economist Andy Haldane, who believes that around half of all UK jobs are also at risk of automation. This is bad news for many employees, but could it be the solution to our senior care crisis? Writer David Mattin certainly thinks so.
In an article published by Medium, Mattin suggests that the mass unemployment caused by AI would free up millions of potential carers. Carting your kids off to nursery would become a thing of the past and elderly people would be looked after by their freshly unemployed family members.
There are two main problems with this idea. Firstly, it would require an enormous shift in society’s belief that a person’s value is linked to their economic success. Instead of relying on their chosen career to provide a sense of purpose, millions of people would have to find fulfillment in the routine tasks they’d be carrying out as carers. While care work is physically and emotionally demanding, carers tend to be undervalued and underpaid, so this would need to radically change.
The second problem with Mattin’s suggestion is that many experts are now casting doubt on previous predictions of mass unemployment. In an article in i News, Professor of AI Toby Walsh queries whether some of the jobs studied by Frey and Osborne could really be automated.
But Professor Walsh suggests that being a bicycle repair person is a social job. “It’s about talking to the customer, selling them the latest kit, offering tips on good places to ride. It’s not just about repairing bikes.” He goes on to predict that people will always prefer to be served by a human barista or treated by a doctor who is capable of communicating compassion.
Professor Walsh’s argument is backed up by a recent report produced by Price Waterhouse Cooper, which reveals that AI and related technologies are predicted to create as many jobs as they displace over the next 20 years.
It seems that providing sufficient care services for the UK’s growing elderly population will only be possible if we use AI in tandem with human carers. For example, automated care bots could take the pressure off care workers by completing mundane tasks such as preparing medication and monitoring patient safety. This would free up human carers so that they could focus on the more personal aspects of care work. After all, robots will never be able to communicate compassion and warmth as effectively as humans can.
The NHS is fully behind this idea, as it plans to implement a long-term strategy of job automation. The benefits of this move are projected to amount to:
What does care work involve?
Caring for older people requires plenty of soft skills. as you’ll be helping your clients to maintain their dignity and independence by providing physical, emotional and social support.
Soft skills for care workers
The challenges of care work
Care work can be physically demanding, particularly if it involves lifting and personal care. You’re likely to form a close bond with some of your clients, so if their health deteriorates you might feel emotionally drained at the end of your shift. Conditions like dementia can also cause behavioural changes, which can be tricky to handle.
While care work is often flexible in terms of the number of shifts you do, it usually involves working some unsociable hours, including evenings, weekends and nights. To avoid disappointment always check out a company’s expectations before you apply to work for them.
Care work jobs
Home care assistants
Home care assistants provide clients with community care in the familiar surroundings of their own home. Duties can include:
Support workers provide a broader range of tasks than home care assistants, although they still carry out many of the same jobs. Extra duties can include:
Care home assistants
Care home assistants work in residential care homes. They do many of the tasks involved with home care and support, but their job can be more challenging, as they often work with clients who need intensive support. Some care home assistants receive extra training in order to provide palliative care for disabled or terminally ill clients. Duties can include:
Care work qualifications
Although some employers express a preference for care workers with GCSEs, your values and attitude are what really matter. You’ll need to gain a first aid qualification and a level two or three NVQ in Health and Social Care, but you might be able to work towards these on the job. A clean driving licence is essential if you’ll be travelling between homes, and all care workers have to undergo criminal record checks via the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)
When you start working in the care sector you’ll be placed on a 12-week induction scheme to ensure that you meet the minimum standards of care in the United Kingdom. The Care Certificate includes 15 modules and covers elements like inclusion, safeguarding and health and safety. Once you’ve got some experience you could do opt for some extra training and specialise in a particular area, such as caring for clients with dementia. Alternatively, you could move into a supervisory or management role.
Care workers’ pay
There’s never a shortage of care work, but the pay doesn’t always reflect the job’s demanding nature. The salary rangers for new full-time care workers, experienced care workers, and senior supervisors are in the following ranges:
While pay is currently an issue for carers, this should change, as the NHS’s job automation strategy increases society’s appreciation for human warmth and compassion. In professor Toby Walsh’s words:
The AI revolution will be about rediscovering the things that make us human. This is a reason why it might be called the Second Renaissance. We will be rediscovering our humanityToby Walsh
With the demand for carers predicted to carry on rising, there’s never been a better time to kick-start your career in care. Interested? Then why not check out our superb range of relevant courses.