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Senior carers on the shortage occupation list (SOL)

May 11, 2021

The government made a decision to include senior carers in the shortage occupation after calls from Care England and other agencies lobbying on behalf of social care and care home bosses. Care homes will now be able to recruit senior carers, managers in care homes and nursing assistants.

The King’s Fund reports that there are over 100,000 social care job vacancies, and this move will give care homes and home care agencies the ability to recruit into vacant roles. Many associations including the United Kingdom Homecare Association and Care England have hailed this as a move in the right direction.


Benefits of the Senior Carer route for Care Homes/ Residential Homes  

  • Employer costs to bring in senior carers is 60% less when compared to directly recruiting registered nurses from non-EU countries.
  • Candidates applying through the senior carer route are registered nurses from overseas – they can work as senior carers and can be interviewed plus their visa can be processed within 6 weeks
  • After completing the English exam, computer-based test, and the OSCE exam, these senior carers can become registered nurses within 12 – 24 months
  • Senior carers coming via this route can be easily trained to administer medicine, tube feeding, and other basic nursing procedures.



“Recruitment and retention of staff are of paramount importance to providers of adult social care. Any future immigration system must consider the realities of the adult social care sector including the valuable contribution of overseas nationals in providing care to some of society’s most vulnerable”.(Prof Martin Green, Chief Executive of Care England)


Staffing remains the number one challenge facing care and residential homes. Care home incidents and breaches to health and social care principles stem from a lack of well-trained staff and rapid staff turnover.


Skills for Care’s 2019 workforce data:


  • 17% of the adult social care sector’s employees were non-British nationals.
  • 8% of the workforce were EU nationals.




Impact of Brexit in 2021/22: 


Due to the end of free movement within the EU and a potential exodus of EU staff post-Brexit/ Covid crisis, planning and executing a robust recruitment strategy is crucial to the successful running of Care homes.  To help plan your workforce, we at Cloudcare Solutions can deliver services that include sourcing, training, onboarding, immigration support, and advice to ensure an appropriate number of staff with the right skills are recruited to care homes and Hospitals.


A report published by The Health Foundation (2020) titled, ‘’ Building the NHS nursing workforce in England concluded that:


  • Since 2017/18, nurse numbers have increased, with the number of FTE nurses and health visitors in the NHS rising by 4.8% in the year to June 2020.
  • However, disparities between service areas continue to widen. Over the past 10 years, only adult nursing and children’s nursing have seen increases in FTE nurse numbers, while the numbers in community nursing, mental health nursing, and learning disability nursing are all lower than they were in June 2010.
  • Across all staff groups, the NHS had 83,591 FTE vacancies in June 2020. A quarter of all nursing vacancies are in mental health. This is particularly concerning as COVID-19 is likely to lead to further demand for mental health services.
  • In 2020 there was a 23% increase in the number of students accepted onto nursing degree courses in England (relative to 2019) – the highest annual number of acceptances since 2011.
  • The UK ranks below the average of high-income OECD countries in terms of the number of practising nurses and the annual number of new nurse graduates relative to its population.
  • Further, about 15% of registered nurses in the UK are trained outside the UK – more than double the OECD average.
  • The 50,000 targets will be insufficient to meet increased demand. We argue there needs to be a shift in focus, away from a single top-down target to a more sustainable, long-term approach.


A sustainable long-term approach with ongoing recruitment planning and strategy is KEY  





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