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The Agency Stigma

When I first started in care in 2009, there was certainly an agency stigma.

There was a divide between full time and agency care staff. Often the view was that agency care workers were incompetent and lazy. This stigma was there well before I came into the industry and is still there now.

This stigma has affected the quality of care of thousands of people over decades, not only in Suffolk but across the UK.

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What is agency stigma?

Agency Stigma is treating agency staff differently to that of your other colleagues, whether that be in your attitude or excluding them from activities/conversations in the home.

This often happens from a preconception that because they work for an agency, they care less or do not work as hard.

Why is there an agency stigma?

I believe there are many reasons why there has been and is an agency stigma. In some people’s case, it will be from personal experience of working with a poor performing agency worker. Others will have heard that someone worked with an agency worker that did not pull their weight on shift. It can even be as simple as they work for another organisation and therefore will be excluded. Everyone will have their own reason and it may even be subconscious.

The problem with agency stigma

The issue with this on ground floor, is that it causes unrest and resentment from being excluded and treated differently. Often these issues quickly demotivate a care team and ultimately affects the experience the resident gets from their care and also becomes a negative working environment for everyone in that care team.

With the industry today being heavily reliant on ad-hoc staffing to ensure that they deliver the care services required, agency stigma is having a wider impact on care providers whom have previously had a bad reputation for this stigma.

How do we solve the problem?

By addressing it! For many years, it was accepted to turn up and be treated differently because you are agency but the world is changing and people demand to be treated the same as their peers.

For this to be effective, agency care workers need to be trained well, be motivated to work hard and mirror the values of care providers.

It is my firm belief that the majority of agency care workers are hard working, dedicated and highly caring individuals whom deliver great care to providers across our industry. But like in so many areas, the few make up the reputation of the many.

We can change this industry stigma by treating everyone the same and to leave our learnt misconceptions at the door and judge everyone on their own merit. If a agency care worker is poor performing then report that to your manager whom can inform the agency. This way that agency care worker who turns up to deliver great care and is an asset to your care team, will go home and look forward to coming back.

What are you thoughts on agency stigma? Have you experienced it and if so would you recommend dealing with it differently or maybe not at all?

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