Creating a new generation of carers
Skills for Care estimate that the number of adult social care jobs in the UK will increase by 40% to 2.25 million by 2035. If we are to meet the demands of those in need of care, that means filling an additional 650,000 jobs. To do this, the healthcare sector needs to entice young people to take up employment as carers when they leave school or university.
This is, of course, easier said than done. Care work has a reputation for being a demanding and thankless job, one seen as a last resort. It is also one where the average worker is 43 years old. All of this means that young people are put off care work before they even leave school or graduate from university.
Using social media to break down misconceptions
Overcoming the perceptions young people have about care work will require communicating to them in a way they are familiar with. Naturally, that means social media.
When young people think of care work, they are likely to picture gruelling tasks being performed in cold and dreary care homes. In contrast, promotional material and adverts on the TV may be almost too pristine and idyllic, creating a sense of mistrust.
Social media, on the other hand, provides an authentic spotlight into what care work involves, all through a medium which young people are familiar with. If care workers, particularly younger apprentices, were to tweet, Instagram or Snapchat the aspects of their work they find enjoyable, surprising or challenging, this would help show just how varied and rewarding care work can be. This content could be amplified as part of a coordinated campaign.
Furthermore, social media could be used to share the individual career stories of people of all ages working in social care. Doing this would highlight that social care does provide opportunities for learning new, interesting skills and career progression.
Social media’s instant person-to-person nature would also go far in showing that care work is of a deeply personal nature, emphasising just how fulfilling it can be. In an age where social responsibility is so important, this would help change attitudes young people have towards care and encourage those with the right values and skills to consider the career as a first choice.
Emphasising new technology
New technology has the potential to transform social care for the benefit of those receiving it and those providing it. It also provides an ideal opportunity to attract a generation which has grown up with technology as a fact of day-to-day life.
Innovations in social care range from apps that reduce the admin load of carers to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) improving our ability to monitor individuals and predict their needs. Emphasising how vital these developments will be to the provision of social care would modernise the sector’s image in the eyes of young people, who might otherwise see it as stagnant.
Moreover, by emphasising the technological aptitude needed to use these tools, as well as the skills that carers will learn, we can make care work all the more attractive to young people. The
opportunity to become an expert in cutting-edge technology is like to excite even those who don’t see themselves working in care forever, as it offer highly demanded and transferable skills.
If companies want to attract young carers, they will therefore need to take advantages of the opportunities which social media and cutting edge technology offer. This means hiring a social media manager, refreshing their online presence and orchestrating campaigns targeted at a younger demographic. Companies should also emphasise the role of technology in job descriptions and share updates with each tech advancement they bring on board. In this way, companies can recruit a new generation of carers at a time when it is essential to do so.
Ashley Van De Casteele, Account Executive at PLMR, a communications agency specialising in the health and social care sector, offering expertise in media relations, planning, digital marketing and public affairs.