The creation of a new Health and Care Worker visa (Department of Health and Social Care, 2022) has been of interest to the adult social care sector for several reasons. These include the high level of vacancies in the sector affecting the well-being of workers and the sustainability of some providers; the impact of sector vacancies on NHS services particularly hospital discharge arrangements and local authority commissioning; and the impact of staff being unavailable on people who need care and support.
The Health and Care Worker visa allows people to come to the UK from other countries, to do an eligible job in the NHS or adult social care, with an employer that has been approved by the Home Office. Eligible jobs are those on the Shortage Occupation List and accessible via the Skilled Worker route. The minimum requirement for these roles has been equivalent to RQF level 3. From February 2022, jobs within social care on the Shortage Occupation List were extended to include ‘Care workers’ and ‘Home carers’ (Shortage Occupation Code 6145) (Home Office, 2022). This is a major change to immigration policy and one that is designed to address the serious staffing shortages in adult social care.
The Visa Study is evaluating the impact of these immigration changes on the social care system, from different perspectives, to offer timely feedback for government departments and agencies.
This qualitative study is gathering the views and experiences of key stakeholders including:
- social care providers - care homes and home care agencies in England who have and have not recruited internationally, of different sizes and sectors
- Health and Care Worker visa holders
- brokerage and recruitment agencies
- local authorities, Integrated Care Systems and local government
- representatives of service users and carers
- sector skills experts.
The research is being funded by National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme (Policy Research Unit in Health and Social Care Workforce: Ref. PR-PRU-1217-21002).
The project’s findings will inform policy developments on adult social care workforce and immigration systems. Key outputs include interim and final reports to the DHSC as well as academic and practice publications and presentations.