Written Evidence submitted by Anchor (RTR0038)


  1. Anchor


1.1   Anchor began nearly 60 years ago and today is England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for people in later life. It provides retirement housing to rent and to buy, retirement villages and residential care homes, including specialist dementia care. In total, Anchor serves more than 65,000 residents in 54,000 homes across almost 1,700 locations. Its residential care services employ the majority of the 9,000-strong workforce, providing services to residents at 114 care homes.  Anchor operates in more than 85% of local councils in England. Anchor is the trading name of Anchor Hanover Group. For more information visit: www.anchor.org.uk.



  1. What are the main steps that must be taken to recruit extra staff that are needed across the health and social care sectors in the short, medium and long-term?


2.1   The social care sector is continuing to experience a significant workforce crisis. Skills for Care estimates that there were 112,000 vacancies on any given day in social care in 2019/20[1] and the National Care Forum (NCF) estimates the current staff turnover across the sector to be 30%.


2.2   Pay remains a significant challenge for social care and it is crucial that funding for services is sufficient to meet the cost of providing those services. A recent NCF survey of 2,000 social care services has found that 74% have experienced an increase in staff exits since April 2021, with 44% of those leaving the sector doing so to find better pay elsewhere. The reopening of many sectors of the economy which were previously closed due to COVID-19 restrictions is likely to further exacerbate this issue.


2.3   These statistics are alarming not just for the care sector but for other services with which we are interdependent. Workforce shortages affect our ability to deliver vital services which invariably impacts upon services such as the NHS through longer stays in hospital and further pressure as a result of the health implications owing to people who are unable to access care packages.


2.4   Social care is a highly skilled and specialised sector. Care work is not just focussed on helping or carrying out essential tasks on behalf of service users but also focussed on enabling them to live fulfilling lives. Whilst any increase in interest and applications in pursuing a career in care is extremely welcome, it is vital that the sector is able to recruit people with the right skills and frame of mind to ensure high quality care for those who need it.


2.5   Presently, social care often loses out to the health service when recruiting people with the right skills and frame of mind to work in the sector. The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the vital work undertaken by the care sector and our contribution to service users and wider society. Through the dedication and skill of the care workforce, thousands of those who are vulnerable to the virus have been protected.


2.6   Anchor welcomes the government’s commitment of £500m towards workforce professionalisation and training as part of the social care white paper along with recognition of the need for a social care workforce plan. Moving forward, we are clear that any long-term funding reform for the sector must tackle the issues affecting pay in the sector and seek to drive parity of esteem with the NHS.


2.7   Social Care’s contribution during the pandemic has not gone unnoticed by the public, yet the public praise has not made recruitment of new staff any easier nor helped the challenges to go away.


2.8   The government must now build upon recognition care work has deservedly acquired throughout the pandemic through coupling funding and system reform with an initiative which highlights the crucial work undertaken in the sector to help tackle long-term issues affecting recruitment.



  1. What is the best way to ensure that current plans for recruitment, training and retention are able to adapt as models for providing future care change?


3.1   Along with the measures outlined above, we are clear that training and recruitment must be targeted at ensuring the care sector provides a fulfilling career with opportunities for skills development and career progression.


3.2   For many years, Anchor has understood the importance of offering our colleagues the opportunity for career progression within our organisation. We offer numerous training and development opportunities across our business from entry level apprenticeships to training for more senior positions.


3.3   We are clear that the government’s promised £500m must reach the front line to support providers to deliver similar training and development opportunities to staff to help to attract new talent into social care and to retain existing colleagues.


3.4   Anchor’s apprenticeships are on offer to both new and existing colleagues with 484 apprentices currently training on our programmes with a total of 987 learners since 2018. Of these learners, 370 joined Anchor through our Apprenticeship Programme and 617 were existed colleagues.


3.5   We use apprenticeships in three ways:





3.6   In addition to our Apprenticeship Programmes, we also provide a stand-alone

talent management programme - myFuture. This leadership focussed programme is central to our aim of inspiring our experienced colleagues whilst offering them the opportunity to progress through our organisation.


3.7   In November 2020, we launched our Leadership Pathways for those who are currently in line manager positions to develop their leadership skills through a variety of online resources.


3.8   In 2020, we also renewed our myFirstYear programme, designed to

support new colleagues in their first year with us. All new colleagues joining Anchor Care Services join a myFirstYear pathway, providing them with a variety of information to help them through their first 12 months. 


3.9   In addition, myFirstYear allows Anchor colleagues to retain documents and information that they receive throughout the 12 months e.g. Induction, Probationary Reviews, Supervisions and ant relevant Qualifications. Underpinning this are defined activities which are delivered by the Care Services team locally acting to support engagement and retention.


3.10                    In July 2021, we launched our Introduction to Leadership for those looking to step into leadership roles within Anchor. Using our online resources, the programme gives colleagues an insight into the skills and behaviours recognised as vital for great leadership such as self-awareness and understanding of how your impact on others can deliver first class service for residents and create a great place to work. Those ready to step into leadership roles also receive further support through face-to-face workshops.


  1. What are the principal factors driving staff to leave the health and social care sectors and what could be done to address this?


4.1   A 2021 survey of 2,000 social care services undertaken by the National Care

Forum has found that 74% of providers have experienced an increase in the number of staff leaving since April 2021 with 50% of those leaving highlighting stress as the main reason for their departure and 44% citing pay. At Anchor, we are acutely aware of these challenges having experienced a number of experienced Care Home Managers leaving us due to pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns for the future.


4.2   These issues are long-standing, with an estimated 120,000 vacancies across social care pre-pandemic and a decline of 33% in the number of social care nurses since 2012/13. 


4.3   As stated in paragraph 2.8, we are calling on the government to couple system and funding reform with a wide-ranging initiative aimed at attracting the people social care needs into the sector through highlighting best practice and the opportunities for career progression and range of careers on offer.


4.4   Anchor’s own research shows that the pandemic has also pushed social care reform higher up the public’s list of priorities:



4.5   As stated above, the public demonstration of appreciation for the work

of the care sector during the pandemic presents the government with a unique opportunity to address the issues which have blighted the sector for many years. The government’s commitment to social care reform and many of the measures outlined in the white paper are encouraging. It is now vital that the case for pursuing in the sector reaches the people social care needs.



  1. Are there any specific roles, and/or geographical locations, where recruitment and retention are a particular problem and what could be done to address this?


5.1   Recruitment in the care sector can be difficult and certain roles harder to fill than others. As highlighted in paragraph 4.3, social care relies on a wide range of colleagues with different skills in order to provide services. As a provider of 114 care homes, Anchor is acutely aware of the need to highlight the range of careers on offer (paragraph 4.3) from care work itself to organising activities and catering.


5.2   Roles in catering can be particularly difficult to recruit to in social care due to competition from the hospitality sector. Anchor is reiterating our calls in paragraph 2.6 for the £500m pledged towards workforce professionalisation and training to reach the frontline and for long-term funding reform to tackle the issues affecting pay in the sector.


5.3   Geographically, there exists a disparity between local authority fees with some set higher than others. Anchor is calling for a consistent approach to local authority funding as part of the government’s reforms so that the cost of delivery care is fairly reflected nationwide.


  1. What should be in the next iteration of the NHS People Plan, and a plan for the social care sector, to address the recruitment, training and retention of staff?


6.1   Anchor welcomes the recognition of the need for a social care workforce plan as part of the social care reform white paper. We believe that Anchor’s own 2020 - 22 People Plan offers a framework which could be applied to the sector as a whole, with many similarities to the NHS’ 2020/21 People Plan. These include:



6.2   We are also calling for the next NHS People Plan to recognise the

interdependency between the health and social care sectors. The 2020/21 NHS People Plan failed to do so with 40% of the NHS budget already spent on the over 65s and delayed discharge from hospital due to a lack of access to social care cost the health service £3bn per year, this interdependency has never been more apparent.



  1. What is the role of Integrated Care Systems in ensuring that local health and care organisations attract and retain staff with the right mix of skills?


7.1   Whilst we welcome steps to improve integration between care providers,

the NHS, local authorities and other partners, Anchor is concerned that Integrated Care Systems as presently proposed will not give social care a sufficient role in the integration process with the NHS and local authorities given primary roles ahead of social care providers.


7.2   As part of greater integration, new roles must be created for social care

Providers, not just the NHS and local authorities to ensure that providers have sufficient input in ensuring that integration helps to tackle the challenges the sector currently faces including recruitment and retention.


7.3   Social care has, for many years, been blighted by disparity with the health

service and policy which fails to recognise the interdependency between the two sectors. Parity between health and care is key to any significant, long-term reform of the care sector, tackling the workforce challenges and to the future of the NHS. This cannot be achieved without a greater role for social care.




January 2022

[1] Social care needs to fill more than 100,000 vacancies (skillsforcare.org.uk)