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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

What does Brexit mean for the UK social care workforce? Perspectives from the recruitment and retention frontline


The UK's departure from the European Union (Brexit) is likely to result in greater immigration and employment restrictions on European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) nationals within the United Kingdom. EU/EEA citizens constitute a significant proportion of the current social care workforce. Research evaluating the impact of Brexit on social care has highlighted potentially severe future workforce shortfalls, but has not engaged in detail with the experiences of social care personnel involved in day-to-day recruitment and retention activities. This article explores how social care managers evaluate Brexit's prospects for future workforce sustainability, through the prism of their organisation's workforce requirements. This qualitative study incorporated in-depth semi-structured interviews and questionnaire surveys with domiciliary and residential care managers. Data collection focused on an urban conurbation in south-west England, with demographic characteristics likely to make post-Brexit recruitment and retention in social care particularly challenging. A key finding is that, irrespective of whether they employ EU/EEA workers or not, research participants have deep concerns about Brexit's potential impact on the social care labour market. These include apprehensions about future restrictions on hiring EU/EEA nurses, as well as fears about increased competition for care staff and their organisation's future financial viability. This article amplifies the voices of managers as an under-researched group, bringing their perspectives on Brexit to bear on wider debates on social care workforce sustainability.


Health & Social Care in the Community


Rosie Read (United Kingdom)
Lee-Ann Fenge (United Kingdom)

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