A new survey published by the National Care Forum (NCF) reveals that the impact of the Omicron variant and the limitations of Government support on the frontline, is mounting the pressure faced by the social care sector.
Those working on the frontline describe the situation today as ‘grim, difficult and relentless.’ The NCF says it’s imperative that policy makers properly understand and appreciate the essential part social care contributes, alleviating the many pressures in communities, including those experienced by the NHS and, most importantly the people who need care and support.
The survey was conducted over a five-day period between 5th-10th January 2022. Collated responses were drawn from non-for-profit organisations who support over 130,000 people, operate approximately 5,250 services and employ approximately 98,000 staff.
The NCF and its membership has been highlighting the growing shortages in the workforce and the knock-on impact on those who remain working in the sector and those who use care and support services for many months and today asked: ‘How many times does this message need to be repeated for it to be heard?’
Some of the key survey findings include:
- 66% of the homecare providers responding are now having to refuse new requests for home care and 43% of providers of care homes are closing to new admissions.
- 21% of providers of home care are handing back existing care package.
- Providers responding reported 18% vacancy rate and 14% absence as a result of the Omicron variant.
- Frontline staff are giving it all by picking up extra shifts, non-care staff are being redeployed from other areas of the organisation to deliver care and support. In addition, providers are having to be much more reliant on agency staff, with a high associated cost, with some members being quoted hourly rates of over £30 for front line staff, and up to £50 an hour for nurses.
- There are extensive delays to PCR results and insufficient access to lateral flow tests, which are increasingly exacerbating staff shortages.
Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the NCF said, ‘It is unacceptable that yet again, nearly two years on from the start of the pandemic, we continue to see enormous pressures in the care and support sector, this time compounded by the impact of Omicron. Staff shortages are excessively high and everything must be done to support providers to operate safe and quality services, so that people have access to the care and support they need, when they need it.
‘The adoption of a strategy by government that gives social care the crumbs from the table in an unrealistic hope that somehow it can continue to operate regardless of meaningful attention is negligent. The NCF and our membership have been highlighting the growing shortages in the workforce and the knock-on impact on those who remain working in the sector and those who use care and support services for many months. How many times does this message need to be repeated for it to be heard?’
Rayner added that the funding received from the Government has been delivered with a ‘drip feed approach’ and has failed to reach providers in a ‘timely manner.’ The CEO questions whether the Government truly values the people working in the social care sector due to its delayed approach to funding.
Visit the NCF website to read the survey results and find out more about the increased pressures faced by the care sector.
In other news, The Joint Committee on Human Rights began taking evidence as part of its new inquiry into protecting human rights in care settings.