Recent research has shown that adult social care in Northern Ireland is a growing employment sector, with over 900 registered services currently providing 41,000 jobs across residential care homes, nursing homes, domiciliary care and day care settings.
Currently, the sector accounts for 5% of total employment – a greater proportion of total NI employment than sectors such as finance, professional services, transportation, ICT and real estate.
The study Economic Value of the Adult Social Care Sector in Northern Ireland, published by Ulster University Economic Policy Centre, demonstrates the significant contribution of the sector towards the NI economy. Adult social care in Northern Ireland directly employs over 41,000 people, supports employment for over 100,000 people and generates £800m in annual turnover, producing £821m in gross value added for the local economy.
Commissioned by the Northern Ireland Social Care Council, Bryson Care, Cedar Foundation and Inspire (Niamh), the study has been produced to help establishments within the sector inform policymakers about the contribution of the adult social care sector to the local economy, to enable a greater understanding and acceptance of the contribution of this sector and its workforce within the health and social care system and the wider community.
As well as showing the important contribution that adult social care makes to the economy in Northern Ireland, it concludes that, 'Increased pressures such as an ageing population, the rise in complex and long-term conditions, and a reduction in public sector resources, highlight the need for more investment to ensure this sector is equipped to meet future demand.
'Social care will play a major part in the transformation of the health service in the years ahead, and across all communities its impact will be beyond the health and social care sector and into the economic and social fabric of Northern Ireland.'
It also highlights the need for investment in recruiting, developing and upskilling the workforce.