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Health Minister Robin Swann today announced plans to establish a Social Care Fair Work Forum – to support and develop Northern Ireland’s social care workforce.

The new body will be tasked with developing proposals to improve terms and conditions and career prospects for social care staff.

This will assist the sector to recruit, develop and retain committed, skilled and well-motivated workers.

It is anticipated the Forum will include representatives from HSC bodies, social care employers, trade unions and other key stakeholders.

The Health Minister stated: “I have repeatedly made clear my determination to improve social care in Northern Ireland through investment and reform. I very much hope this new Forum will help achieve this goal for this important workforce.

“The importance of social care was very much underlined during the pandemic, with care homes at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 and domiciliary care services providing a vital lifeline for vulnerable people living in their own homes.

“There can be no denying that many social care services are fragile, not least because we need to build up and support the workforce.”

Chief Social Worker Sean Holland said: “All jurisdictions across these islands are facing the same challenges in relation to social care and the social care workforce.

“Wales has also announced a Social Care Fair Work Forum to address workforce issues – including the need to improve terms and conditions for the social care workforce.

“A collaborative approach involving all key stakeholders will enable us to chart a way forward for Northern Ireland, and help achieve the objectives of our health and social care workforce strategy.

“I also believe the new Forum will help provide a voice for a workforce who often feel marginalised.”

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