The Independent Care Group today called on the Government to step in and tackle the crisis in social care like it is doing over petrol and food shortages.
The ICG says the Government is willing to do anything to support some issues but continues to ignore the crisis in social care.
It today warned that a whole raft of challenges is mounting which could push some care providers to the brink of survival just before winter.
- A staffing crisis exacerbated by mandatory vaccination and Brexit
- Rocketing energy costs for care and nursing homes
- Homecare workers struggling to do visits due to petrol shortages
- Rising insurance premiums following the Covid-19 pandemic
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “The Government is willing to do anything – including granting visas to overseas workers – to tackle food and petrol shortages but continues to be deaf when it comes to the care of our most vulnerable. It needs to get a grip on social care before it is too late and the number of people who aren’t getting the care they need, some 1.5m, doubles.
“We are facing a whole raft of problems. Only today we hear that homecare workers are struggling to visit people in their own home because they cannot get petrol.
“The Government will need to remember that care workers are just as vital as other sectors when it comes to ensuring they can get petrol.
“Before Covid-19 we had more than 120,000 care staff vacancies, we have seen from advertising statistics that the sector advertised for more than 55,000 staff earlier this month and there are predictions that imposing the mandatory vaccine will add another 40,000. We can’t survive like this.
“Winter is just round the corner, a time when demand for care increases dramatically and social care is stretched to the limit.
“But following Covid-19, the sector is already on its knees and further storm clouds are gathering that could push many providers to the brink, leaving the country short of care when it needs it most.
“The Government thinks it solved the social care problem through the extra funding it announced some weeks ago, but that isn’t the case. The vast bulk of that will go straight to the NHS whilst social care has to wait. Social care and the NHS have to work hand in hand – supporting the NHS without supporting social care is a waste of time. If social care collapses it will pile even greater pressure on the NHS and take that to the bring too.
“The care of our oldest and younger, vulnerable adults needs urgent support today.
“We are heading for a staffing meltdown and a situation across the country where we won’t be able to safely deliver care in care and nursing homes and in people’s own homes, through domiciliary care,” he warned.
Social care has already been hit hard by the inability to recruit overseas workers following Brexit. The ICG says.
“Why is the Government breaking its policy on overseas workers for one sector and not for social care, which needs help just as urgently?” said Mr Padgham.
The ICG also says care providers are being put in a Catch 22 situation over the mandatory vaccine for care staff, which comes in on 11th November. It says the Government should get rid of that deadline.
“If they allow unvaccinated workers to continue to provide care, they will be breaking the rules and risk sanctions from the Care Quality Commission (CQC),” Mr Padgham added. “But if they sack staff who refuse to have the vaccine they will risk being understaffed and again risk sanction from the CQC, including being unable to offer care.”
Mr Padgham also believes the Government is going to need to provide extra financial support to care providers to cope with rising energy costs and increased insurance costs, following Covid-19.
“These are going to add huge extra costs at a time when they can least afford it,” Mr Padgham added. “They may be enough to send some to the brink of survival unless the Government recognises it and does something to help.”
The ICG is campaigning 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.