Welcome to Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW)

Staff turnover and job vacancy rates are persistently high in UK social care. Understanding the drivers of staff retention and motivators of care staff is important to enable the sector to provide sustainable, high-quality services and meet increasing demand.

This project, which runs between April 2019 and March 2022, is funded by the Health Foundation Efficiency Research Programme, led by the University of Kent and supported by the strategic body for social care workforce development, Skills for Care. It aims to help social care providers, commissioners, regulators and policy-makers understand the specific organisational and individual drivers of staff retention in the social care sector by exploring:

  • What specific characteristics do social care workers have, and how committed are they to their jobs, when compared with workers in other low-wage service industries?

  • Why are there differences in retention rates between social care providers, and between social care and other low-wage service industries?

  • Why do care workers decide to leave their jobs, and why do some job leavers choose to leave the social care industry altogether?

  • What is the impact of COVID-19 on workforce retention and sustainability?

We are answering these questions by:

  • Analysing existing data from national surveys and large datasets, primarily: the UK Quarterly Labour Force Survey; the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings; the Employer Skills Survey; the National Minimum Dataset for Social Care (NMDS-SC); the Skills for Care survey of individual employers and personal assistants; and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) health and social care provider register.

  • Collecting primary data on the impact of COVID-19 on the social care workforce by means of: a) a ‘pulse’ workforce web survey; and b) a longitudinal (two wave) telephone survey of care workers. 

As well as carrying out the data analysis, we will consult and work closely with adult social care stakeholders, including providers, care users, care workers, family carers, commissioners, regulators and policy makers. We will organise annual workshops across the country to gather views on emerging findings and generate examples of ‘good working conditions/quality jobs’ in the social care industry, and pathways to achieve these nationally.
The team brings together social policy researchers, health economists and labour economists from the University of Kent, University College London and City University:
Dr Florin Vadean (PSSRU, University of Kent)
Prof Shereen Hussein (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)
Dr Stephen Allan (PSSRU, University of Kent)
Dr Katerina Gousia (PSSRU, University of Kent)
Dr Agnes Turnpenny (IPC, Oxford Brookes University); team member between April 2019 and June 2021
Grace Collins (PSSRU, University of Kent)
Hansel Teo (PSSRU, University of Kent)
Ann-Marie Towers (CHSS, University of Kent)
Dr Daniel Roland  (PSSRU, University of Kent)
Dr Catherine Marchand (CHSS, University of Kent)
Dr Eirini Saloniki (Department of Applied Health Research, UCL)
Prof Alex Bryson (Department of Social Science, UCL)
John Forth (Bayes Business School, City University of London)
By Eirini-Christina Saloniki, Agnes Turnpenny, Grace Collins, Catherine Marchand, Ann-Marie Towers and Shereen Hussein

  • RESSCW Survey Questionnaires

Covid 19 RESSCW Panel 1

Covid 19 RESSCW Panel 2

Covid 19 Pulse Survey

By John Forth, Bayes Business School, City University, London & Alex Bryson, Social Research Institute, University College London Summary of "Personal assistants in England and the factors associated with absenteeism" by Daniel Roland, Stephen Allan, Eleni Chambers, Debs Smith and Katerina Gousia GLO Discussion Paper, No. 994, Global Labor Organization (GLO), Essen by Florin Vadean and Eirini Saloniki By Agnes Turnpenny (PSSRU, University of Kent) and Shereen Hussein (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) By Ann-Marie Towers (Reader in Social Care, Centre for Health Services Studies, University of Kent) & Grace Collins (Research Officer, Personal Social Services Research Unit, University of Kent) By Professor Shereen Hussein, Dr Eirini Saloniki, Dr Agnes Turnpenny, Grace Collins, Dr Florin Vadean, Professor Alex Bryson, John Forth, Dr Stephen Allan, Ann-Marie Towers, Dr Katerina Gousia and Lisa Richardson. Commentary No. 6 of the MigResHub at the Migration Policy Centre, RSCAS, European University Institute By Florin Vadean, Shereen Hussein, Agnes Turnpenny and Eirini Saloniki, University of Kent A blog post by Professor Shereen Hussein A blog post by John Forth. Download it here as a pdf.
RESSCW project - Main findings and Policy Implications webinar - 17 May 2022

This webinar provided an opportunity to engage with the sector and share key findings and implications from the Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce project (RESSCW) study. By examining the literature, existing data sources and collecting new information from social care workers and providers (e.g. surveys), the project findings fill an important evidence gap around staff stability and wellbeing in the adult social care sector in England. The presentation covered findings and policy implications from:

• A review of international literature on factors associated with retention of social care workforce;
• Empirical analysis of the Annual Population Survey (APS) on retention of care workers in adult social care compared to healthcare assistants in the NHS;
• Empirical analysis of job separations and sick leave of frontline staff using data from the Adult Social Care Workforce Data Set (ASC-WDS);
• Empirical analysis of care establishments’ turnover, hiring and vacancy rates and their relationship with employment dynamics using ASC-WDS data;
• Secondary data analysis of retention and sick leave of Personal Assistants, using the Skills for Care Survey of Individual Employers and Personal Assistants; and
• Primary data analysis of the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the retention and wellbeing of social care staff.

Click here to download the presentation slides from the webinar

View a recording of the webinar below

Webinar - Implications and impact of covid 19 on the sustainability and retention of the social care workforce. October 18th, 2021

In this webinar the Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW) research team presented findings from the first wave of their survey, which ran from April  to June 2021, that explored the various implications and cumulative impact of living and working through the COVID-19 pandemic on the workforce, organisations and the wider health and care systems.

The discussion covered:

  1. The impact of COVID-19 on care workers’ general wellbeing, working conditions, and intentions to stay or leave the employer and/or sector;

  2. How individual and work characteristics impact on workers’ experiences; and

  3. Differences in the experiences by care settings, especially between domiciliary and residential care?

Click this text to download the slides of the presentation 

A recording will be available soon.

If you have any questions, please contact Grace Collins: 
Research, Innovation and Best Practice Webinar 30th September, 2021

This free webinar brought together researchers, providers, people who use services and their representatives or carers, policy makers, and regulators to discuss emerging evidence, innovation, and best practice for a sustainable social care workforce.

The webinar included presentations from the Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW) project on what drives staff retention in Adult Social Care, how does Adult Social Care compare to other low wage sectors, the employment and retention of personal assistants, and best practice to reduce turnover.

Watch the webinar here: https://youtu.be/8l6NrjB-L68

You can also download copies of the presentations here:

Webinar: COVID-19 and Long-Term Care workforce, 7th September 2020, 2pm GMT

In this webinar we learnt about early research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people who work in long-term care and discussed the ways in which the poor working conditions experienced by many workers in this sector (low pay, zero-hour contracts, no sick pay) may have affected the response to the pandemic. More info here

The presentation slides can be found here

1st Efficiency Research Programme (Round 3) Advisory Group meeting

The 3rd round of the Health Foundation Efficiency Research Programme awarded grants to six project teams to conduct research with focus on retention of health and social care staff; one of the projects funded being Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW). The first Advisory Group meeting took place on 10 October 2019 at the St Bride Foundation in London. The PIs of the six projects had the opportunity to discuss the methodological challenges faced by their respective projects with Anita Charlesworth (The Health Foundation), Candace Imison (Nursing and Midwifery Council), Heidi Grainger (Office for Manpower Economics), James Buchan (Queen Margaret University Edinburgh), Joe Hewton (The Health Foundation), Matthew Whittaker (Resolution Foundation), Peter Smith (Imperial College London; Chair), and Polly Pascoe (The Health Foundation). Dr Florin Vadean and Prof Shereen Hussein represented the RESSCW project. It was an excellent opportunity to share ideas with PIs from the other projects and receive valuable feedback from Advisory Group members. The Efficiency Research Programme Advisory Group will meet twice yearly during the lifetime of the projects, and provide expert input and guidance to support individual project teams. “Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW)” is part of the Health Foundation’s Efficiency Research Programme. The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.

"Job quality and staff retention in the social care sector" - New blog post from RESSCW project team member Florin Vadean available on the PSSRU blog page.
The Health Foundation speaks to Professor Shereen Hussein about the RESSCW project in this news piece 'Stemming the tide: retaining the social care workforce'

Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW) project – very productive 1st Steering Group Meeting

On 1st July 2019 the Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW) project had its first Steering Group meeting, hosted by the CASS Business School, City University of London. The project team met with Prof Sian Prof Sian Moore (University of Greenwich; Chair); Polly Pascoe (The Health Foundation), Colin Angel (UKHCA), Karolina Gerlich (NACAS), Dr Rekha Elaswarapu (Age UK), and Matthew Egan (UNISON). Further Steering Group members are Ricardo Rodrigues (European Centre for Social Welfare Policy and Research), Will Fenton (Skills for Care) and Lynne Linehan (lay research advisor). The team presented the RESSCW project objectives, methodology and expected impact of and got very helpful feedback from Steering Group members. This will help refine research questions and methods, in order to achieve a stronger impact, better aligned with the needs of social care staff and providers. The Steering Group will meet another three times during the lifetime of the project (in 2020, 2021, and 2022), and advise the project team on delivering much needed evidence aimed at improving workforce retention and recruitment in the social care industry.

“Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW)” is part of the Health Foundation’s Efficiency Research Programme. The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.

For more information about this project, please contact:

Dr Florin Vadean, Research Fellow, Personal Social Services Research Unit, University of Kent, Canterbury

Prof Shereen Hussein, Professor of Health and Social Care Policy, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

You can also follow our progress on #resscw on the PSSRU twitter account: @pssru_kent

The RESSCW steering group brings together stakeholders and lay research advisors.

Karolina Gerlich, CEO and Founding Director, National Association of Care & Support Workers Ltd
Dr Rekha Elaswarapu, Special adviser, Age UK London and Board member, National Dignity Council
Will Fenton, Project manager - Analysis, Skills for Care
Professor Sian Moore, Director Work and Employment Research Unit, Greenwich Business School


“Retention and Sustainability of Social Care Workforce (RESSCW)” is part of the Health Foundation’s Efficiency Research Programme. The Health Foundation is an independent charity committed to bringing about better health and health care for people in the UK.