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Determinants of staff turnover and vacancies in the long-term care sector in England

2018 Conference Presentation

Workforce EnglandUnited Kingdom

11 September 2018

Determinants of staff turnover and vacancies in the long-term care sector in England

Eirini Saloniki, University of Kent, United Kingdom

Co-author: Florin Vadean, University of Kent, United Kingdom


Objectives: Staff recruitment and retention are generally known to be influenced by low pay, low job satisfaction and lack of opportunities for career advancement in people’s current jobs, and better job opportunities offered by other employers (or industries). Yet, little is known about the determinants of the current substantial turnover and vacancy rates among long-term care staff in England. Recent data shows that turnover in the long-term industry in England reached almost 30 percent, and is highest among frontline staff. At the same time, about 6.6 percent of long-term care jobs in England are vacant with employers having difficulties particularly in recruiting and retaining younger people. The main aim of this study is to assess whether individual, organisational and work environment factors are affecting turnover and vacancy rates of long-term care staff in England.

Methods: We are using data from the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC), the main source of social care workforce intelligence in England, covering more than 22,000 establishments and over 700,000 workers. We use a range of econometric methods to determine the effects of individual, organisational and work environment factors on turnover and vacancy rates and exploit the longitudinal nature of the data to establish causality.

Results: Preliminary results show that most problems with recruitment and retention are experienced by for-profit domiciliary care providers, even after controlling for other factors. Everything else equal, the hourly wages have the strongest effect on both turnover and vacancies for domiciliary care providers, but have no significant effect in the case of residential care. Results from before-after analysis also show that for domiciliary care, the higher the share of staff paid below the new minimum wage level as well as the higher the average increase in wages to bring staff pay to the new mandatory minimum, the higher the establishments turnover and vacancy rates.

Conclusions: Factors that can help explain and inform the development of solutions to workforce stability issues are of great interest, given the current shortage of care workers in England. A reduction in turnover and vacancy rates would be expected to promote better care quality and create efficiencies in the costs of staffing. Our results show that the substantial increase in minimum wage in recent years might have not been sufficient to improve recruitment and retention problems in the industry. Similar to other findings in the literature, we also find that both turnover and vacancy rates are negatively related to the staff mean age implying that strategies aimed at improving recruitment and retention in the long-term care sector should give particular attention to young people.