Social care staffing crisis deepens

The Independent Care Group is calling for an urgent injection of funding into the social care sector as the staffing crisis in the sector deepens.

And they are warning that an increase in pay for NHS nurses is likely to worsen the situation unless better social care funding improves.

A report from Skills for Care today revealed that the number of vacant posts in social care had shot up by 55,000 in the past year – a shocking increase of 52%.

The ICG said the figures laid bare a crisis that was robbing older and vulnerable people of the care they need. It is calling for the creation of a National Minimum Wage for care staff.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “Shocking as they are, nobody can be surprised at these figures as care providers on the front line know that it is becoming impossible to fill care vacancies and they are struggling to give people the care they need.

“We are seeing care and nursing homes close due to the ongoing funding crisis and homecare providers closing or handing back contracts that are not possible to deliver.

“Unless better funding is provided for social care, this is only going to get worse and worse and that is terrible, tragic news for those needing care.”

He warned that the pay increase of around 4% announced yesterday for NHS workers would pile even more pressure on recruitment within social care.

“Just months ago, NHS nurses and social care staff were working side by side to tackle the pandemic and people were clapping on their doorsteps in appreciation. That seems to have been forgotten,” Mr Padgham added.

“Social care already cannot match the pay offered by the NHS and yesterday’s £1,400 pay rise for those workers, though very, very well deserved, will widen that gap even further, making it even harder for social care providers to recruit.

“Local authorities who commission care, themselves strapped for cash after years of austerity, cannot pay providers a true price for the care that is provided, making it impossible for those providers, in turn, to pay staff properly and in line with their NHS counterparts.

“They deserve so much better. Little wonder those going into the care sector go to the NHS when social care cannot compete.

“Let’s face it, social care cannot compete with jobs in retail or hospitality, where there is arguably less stress than in the care professions.

“The Government’s recruitment campaign was well-intentioned and welcome but had limited impact because it couldn’t address the elephant in the room, which is staff pay. Arguably, money spent on such campaigns might be better spent on addressing the staff pay shortfall.

“Unless a way can be found to get more funding to the front line of social care delivery, these staffing shortages are going to keep on getting worse and worse and there will be less and less care available for those who need it.

Earlier this week ADASS warned that long-term austerity, Covid, spiralling costs and the care staffing crisis were combining to create the most challenging year ahead the sector has ever faced.