Social care needs ‘immediate cash injection’ and new recruits to support workforce
Organisation representing social care workforce says more money and new recruits are needed to support the ‘exhausted’ workforce and ensure that vital services do not collapse as the Covid-19 pandemic hits a new peak.
Extra funding is urgently needed to support the social care workforce and prevent the collapse of vital services for older people, disabled people, families and carers in the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, says the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services in a statement released today (14 January 2021).
ADASS, a charity which provides a national voice and leadership for adult social care, say that ‘alarming gaps’ are appearing in social care teams through Covid-19 infection, self-isolation and sheer fatigue.
They have asked for an additional £480m in England to increase the provision of care at home for older and disabled people so that they can live independently and can be kept out of hospital for as long as possible.
The adult social care sector, which had 112,000 existing vacancies prior to the pandemic, is being expected to ease the strain on the NHS by supporting people discharged from hospital to free up beds, but ADASS says that extra funding is needed this week to pay for additional staff and care.
ADASS is also issuing an urgent plea for anyone with experience of care work to consider returning to the sector to help frontline workers cope the rising infections expected over the coming weeks.
“Like our NHS colleagues, social care workers have never been under such pressure,” said James Bullion, ADASS President, adding: “They are doing more than ever before, but absences are high and rising and our capacity to keep vital services going is at grave risk.”
“We need funding now to enable care providers to recruit extra skilled pairs of hands and we are asking anyone who has done care work in the past to think very seriously about returning to help us get through this.”
The announcement follows warnings from care groups earlier this week that staffing pressures were mounting, with some services reporting staffing absences of more than 50%.
Read our story on the warnings:
Vic Rayner, Executive Director of the National Care Forum, said: “Staff in care services have been at the very front line of this battle against COVID-19 for over 11 months, and are shattered both physically and emotionally.”
“Action is needed now to ensure social care services can provide the care and support so desperately needed. Additional capacity needs to be resourced and built into care services to allow for full staffing to be available in the light of short-term absences of the nature that services are seeing during this period of exceptionally high community transmission.”
The association is also seeking extra help for family carers who are providing the most intense support for loved ones. It says an extra direct payment of £50 a week for carers during the worst of the pandemic will enable them to pay for respite breaks and keep going until the pandemic eases.
ADASS also urged a major overhaul of pay and conditions for care workers, many of whom are only paid £8.91 an hour.
Drawing comparisons to supermarket chain Morrisons, who from April 2021 will pay its staff a minimum of £10 an hour, Mr. Bullion said the pandemic had “opened people’s eyes to the essential contribution of carers” and called for a national care wage of at least £10.90, as well as significant investment in training and the creation of career paths to put social care work on a par with that in the NHS.