A national survey of adult placement schemes in England: recruitment and retention of adult placement carers
Adult placement (AP) schemes and the carers they support have been, up to now, a largely invisible part of the social care workforce. Carers in particular fail to appear in workforce statistics. They provide a unique form of care to vulnerable people, underpinned by values of extended family (‘kinship’) support. Little is known about the range of current activities of AP schemes and the carers they support. This study of AP schemes in England aimed to provide baseline data about the workforce, care provision, qualification levels, training and support issues, and recruitment and retention problems. Questionnaires were sent to all known schemes in England in both statutory and independent sectors. A final database of 130 schemes was compiled and of these, 124 contributed to the survey with complete or partial information. Variables relating to carers, and recruitment and retention problems experienced by schemes were analysed in detail. Age, gender and ethnic profiles of AP carers were described. Anecdotal evidence had suggested that the current regulatory system was leading to a loss of AP carers and/or an increasingly unregulated sector. Results from analyses supported this as the major reason given by schemes for the problems they had experienced in the last 12 months. Estimates of both the current level of registration and the numbers of carers cancelling their registration in the previous 12 months were made. Recently agreed regulatory changes aim to shift the burden of regulation from individual carers to AP schemes, and thereby ensure a consistent standard of assessment, training and support across England. Evidence from the survey provided support for such a move.