In this month’s column, I’m focusing on another of the national targets we want to achieve with our five-year plan.
That is, our aim to make sure high-quality research, data and evidence is used by people working in social care and by those who make decisions about social care.
One of the major reports we publish each year is our annual data report about the social care workforce in Wales.
This report collects data from local authorities and social care providers in Wales and gives us a useful snapshot into those working in social care and the state of the sector.
This year’s report shows almost 85,000 people work in social care in Wales. The largest part of the sector is residential care for adults, which employs around 29,100 people.
The vast majority of those working in the sector are women, who make up 82 per cent of the workforce, while 95 per cent are White.
We know the social care sector has been facing significant challenges for some time now and the report highlights some of those difficulties.
It shows there are more than 5,000 vacancies across social care in Wales, that’s around nine per cent of the workforce.
Sickness levels across the sector are also high, with more than 200,000 days lost to sickness in 2022.
These recruitment and staffing issues are putting more pressure on a sector that’s already struggling because of the increasing demand for social care services.
And this in turn means people who need care and support are having to wait longer for advice, assessments and support.
While some of these challenges may not be a surprise, having this data means we can now use this evidence to help us decide how best we can support the sector.
The report also shows almost a third of those working in social care has some Welsh language ability.
This is positive news, but if we’re to make sure our citizens can receive care and support in the language of their choice, we need to continue our efforts to support those working in the sector to learn and feel confident speaking Welsh, and to attract more Welsh speakers to the sector.
Earlier this year, we introduced an online course to help those working in social care learn Welsh. The free, bitesize course teaches handy words and phrases that workers can use with the people they care for.
It’s the first of two Welsh language courses we’re introducing with the National Centre for Learning Welsh this year, and we’ll be launching the second at the National Eisteddfod this summer.
At the Eisteddfod, we’ll also be announcing the winner of our Caring in Welsh award, our annual award recognising and celebrating people who provide excellent care and support through the medium of Welsh.
This year, we’ll be asking members of the public to vote for the winner. So, keep an eye on our website and our social media channels later this month if you’d like to get involved and vote for our winner.
Last but not least, our WeCare Wales team will be at the Eisteddfod on 10 August to talk to anyone interested in a career in care.
If you’re at the Eisteddfod that day and want to find out more, look out for the team in their turquoise t-shirts and hoodies.