The Independent Care Group (ICG) today renewed its appeal for urgent Government action as more and more care providers hit difficulties.
They say the Government has to set up an emergency task force of volunteers straight away otherwise the social care system will collapse and take NHS care with it.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says news of a homecare provider unable to deliver care on the Isle of Wight and one in York earlier this year show that the system is crumbling. Care and nursing homes are also struggling to cover shifts and some have closed.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “We really are reaching a crisis point, but the Government continues not to listen.
“It has shown that it can recall Parliament to debate an emergency issue like Afghanistan – well thousands of care providers and those they care for are wondering why they can’t tackle this issue at home, right now.
“Unless we get urgent funding action and the task force we have called for, the provider failures we are already seeing and the many others that are not making headlines will grow into a flood until we cannot properly provide care any more in this country.
“Providers are failing and there is only so much local authorities will be able to do when contracts are handed back or when care and nursing homes close.
“And if social care fails then NHS care will start to fail too, as the two need each other to survive.”
The ICG has unveiled its three-point plan to prevent a “winter meltdown” due to the crisis in the care of older and vulnerable people.
It calls for:
- Parliament to be recalled urgently to tackle the crisis
- A volunteer army to fill gaps left by the huge recruitment shortage in care
- A financial injection to help providers give staff better terms and conditions.
It says years of underfunding followed by the Covid-19 pandemic has left the sector on its knees with increasing closures of care and nursing homes and homecare providers having to hand back contracts.
Before Covid-19 there were 120,000 vacancies in the care sector. Staff sickness and those isolating has been followed by a loss of staff to the sector due to plans to force all employees to have the vaccine. The Department for Health and Social Care has itself warned that up to 40,000 people could be lost from social care over the vaccination issue.
The end of freedom of movement after Brexit has also cut off a valuable source of recruitment for the sector.
There is a growing problem of homecare providers being unable to take on new clients or even cover existing ones and of handing contracts back to their local authority. This is leading to people being delayed in hospital beds or left without the care they need.
“We need some urgent funding to be put in place, like the Government did with infection control, to enable providers to address pay within the sector and help them to recruit, because staff shortages are now becoming critical,” Mr Padgham added.
“The Government should also recruit a care volunteer task force, from retired nurses, doctors, carers, to help out. This would need to be done quickly so that they can be DBS checked and trained before winter pushes us to tipping point.
“We also need to work closely with the inspectors, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), to see how we manage the inspection regime sensitively during this extremely challenging time for providers, many of whom are struggling to keep going.
“Even before Covid-19 there were 1.5m people living without the care they need. We should be addressing that. Instead, we are struggling to keep our heads above water. Without urgent help people, their families and communities are going to suffer a terrible winter.”
The ICG has long campaigned for:
- A root and branch overhaul of the way social care is planned and funded
- NHS care and social care to be merged and managed either locally or nationally
- Extra funding for social care, funded by taxation or National Insurance
- Dementia treated like other high priority illnesses, like cancer and heart disease
- A fixed percentage of GDP to be spent on social care
- Social care businesses to be zero-rated for VAT.