Supporting health and social care workers

16 February 2015

A Lancaster University Management School project will help health and social care workers professionally in the light of the demands of an ageing population.

It has been well documented over recent years that people are living longer and that the number of people in older age-groups will increase dramatically in the near future.

In Lancashire older people make up a larger portion of the population than the average nationally. In the Lancashire and Morecambe area alone, there were an estimated 26,880 people aged 65 and over in 2013, which accounted for 19.1% of the population. By 2037, the population aged 65 or over in Lancaster is projected to be 39,300, an increase of 46% from 2013. The increasing number of older people is a challenge for the Lancaster and Morecambe area because the growing numbers will mean potentially greater demands on local health and social care services.

A team led by Dr Carolyn Downs of the Department of Leadership and Management has been awarded funding for three years by the European Union Erasmus+ Scheme to set out the basis for professionalising care work, improve standards and encourage more recruits across the continent.

The Healthcare Workers Employability Learning and Professionalisation (HELPcare) project aims to develop a regulatory framework and standards for workers that can be adopted, and adapted as necessary, across the EU. The project also aims to improve the management of care and care commissioning.

Dr Carolyn Downs said: “In the Lancaster and Morecambe area we are not only going to need more carers in our community, but we will also need to ensure that both paid and unpaid carers are continually valued, supported, qualified and provided with opportunities to improve and develop their skills.

“A significant obstacle for local and national employers is the retention and recruitment of carers in the workforce. Part of the solution to this is by providing more access to training opportunities and a clear career pathway for care workers to follow.”

The HELPcare project will create pathways to professionalisation, qualifications and more opportunities for continuous professional development.

The use of free online courses will be examined as one way to provide training and the project will include setting up a European-wide network of service commissioners, policymakers and training providers in order to share best practice.