England & Wales Health and social care

Key to Care: Report of the Burstow Commission on the Future of the Home Care Workforce


Today we publish the final report of the Burstow Commission on the Future of the Home Care Workforce.

If home care is not in crisis yet, it soon will be. More people need care and there is less money to pay for it and not enough people willing to do the work. It is not organised nearly as well as it could be and it appears designed to keep caring professional relationships from forming between workers and those they care for. We are probably lucky there hasn’t been a major home care scandal yet. If things don’t change, it may only be a matter of time. This Commission was formed with a sense of that urgency and a need to change.

This report outlines clear recommendations on what needs to change to have a professional, well-paid, well-trained and properly regulated workforce who can provide the quality of care at home that people need. But it also recognises the complex nature of social care and the interrelatedness of problems and solutions. It features the stories of care workers, in their own words, who powerfully speak on both what needs to change and what could be the future of care.

This Commission was chaired by the Rt. Hon. Paul Burstow, MP former minister for Care who says.

“As publicly funded care continues to be squeezed the danger is that good providers are driven out, and those providers who make a profit by exploiting workers thrive.  The price of poor care is paid for by the most frail and vulnerable in our community, and by the care workers they rely on who get a raw deal.

 We must make care work a career of esteem, where a living wage is paid, staff are trained and recognised as valued key workers who contribute a huge amount to society.  This will inevitably come at a price, but the cost of doing nothing will be even greater.”

 The report was supported by Mears Group. Alan Long, Executive Director of Mears Group said:

“In too many cases the domiciliary care market is failing to deliver positive outcomes for those receiving services, putting businesses and charities operating in the sector at risk of collapse and exploiting those who deliver care.

The vast majority of care workers are extremely dedicated and hardworking individuals that are providing good quality care in spite of the system. While individual care companies can and are making improvements to the terms and conditions faced by care workers the root of the problem is systemic and can only be tackled with the buy in of commissioners. The continued predominance of task and time commissioning has created a race to the bottom and has institutionalised an attitude where care workers are seen as overheads. For the sake of the England’s 685,000 care workers it is time to act.”

The Commission and Terms of Reference:

Commissioners included:

  • Chair: Paul Burstow, MP
  • Sarah Newton, MP
  • Cllr John Pantall, Stockport
  • Cllr Gwen Hassall, Stoke
  • Alan Long, Mears
  • Kevin Rowan, TUC
  • Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of  Leonard Cheshire Disability

See more about the Commission’s approach and terms of reference.

Coverage of the report: