Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

29th June 2016

How many carers are sufficient for 34 challenging dependent users?

Hi can you please tell me if 2 carers is a sufficient number of staff for 34 challenging heavy dependency service users ?

Dear Ro,

This question comes up often. It's an important one that can cause a lot of confusion. I've included below an answer I previously wrote. I hope you will find this helpful. If you need further advice, please get in touch again.

Best wishes,


There is no set method of calculating staffing levels  but you need to have a method and stick to it. You also need to record in detail your calculations.

Assuming that you are a Registered Care Home the following is a relatively straightforward way of calculating your staffing levels:

  1. Decide what your core staff numbers should be for the following when the home is full:
  • Morning
  • Afternoon and evening
  • Night
  1. You decide what the core staff is by deciding how many staff need to be on duty to comfortably provide care to 34 residents at the different times of the day.
  2. The core staff should exclude supernumerary staff such as the Manager.
  3. Regularly, at least weekly the Manager should consider whether individuals have higher care needs and how these needs can be dealt with.
  4. As the staff are also expected to deal with laundry and kitchen duties that will of course be part of the calculation when the core staff is decided.
  5. I cannot stress enough the importance of recording all your decisions about staffing levels.

*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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