Shereen Hussein, Jill Manthorpe
Little is known about those employed to support family carers of disabled people or those with longterm care needs. The term ‘carer’ is used in England to refer to family members and others who provide unpaid regular and substantial support to adults with disabilities, including older people and others unable to live independently. Among the wider social care workforce some staff are employed to provide support for these carers, but little is known about the composition and characteristics of this group of staff. The findings reported in this article are derived from quantitative secondary analysis of the National Minimum Data Set for Social Care (NMDS-SC; n = 499 034), which collects data from social care employers and reports to Skills for Care. This data set includes information about the characteristics of the workforce employed to support carers and the organisations that employ them to do so. Our analysis showed that this support workforce is mostly female, with a large number of part-time employees who are based in organisations with significantly higher turnover and vacancy rates than other organisations which provide social care. Staff who support family carers appear to be better qualified and to have longer experience within the care sector than other social care workers. From these findings we conclude that this support workforce may be affected by staff shortages themselves, and that high staff turnover rates may undermine the continuity of support given to family carers, leading to problems for existing staff. We argue that developing the potential of social care staff to support family carers requires specific attention from social care employers and policy makers.