Sweden trialled a two-year experiment which saw care workers’ day reduced from 8 hours to 6. To cope with the reduction in the working day more care workers had to be employed at significant cost, just over £1m over the period. At the same time reduced hours care workers’ salaries on shorter working days were maintained.
Initial results from the experiment have seen the workforce reduce the incidence of sickness by 10% and consequently reduce the reliance on agency workers. This also could have a positive impact on the residents of the care home by increasing the continuity of care.
Compared with workers on their normal 8 hour days the increase in health and wellbeing is estimated at 50%. Workers on the reduced hour working week were spending more time engaging with residents, crucial interactions such as walking outside and playing games that benefit dementia sufferers and the general care home population as a whole.
It should be noted that this trial was for public sector workers and the benefits vs costs of implementing a strategy such as this in the UK are likely to be considerable. In a time where budgets for social care in particular are under increased pressure schemes such as these are only likely to be given credence in the upper end of the market.
The full findings are due to be published in March this year.