Thousands being turned down care as staff shortages produce “stark reality”
Thousands of people are being refused care due to the capacity crisis in the social care workforce, this is according to a new survey from the National Care Forum (NCF). The NCF surveyed 340 Care Managers running services that employed over 21,000 staff and supported over 15,000 people across a range of care services.
Managers responding to the survey report an average staff vacancy rate of 17 per cent. This is leading to a significant reduction in the amount of care available.
Some 67 per cent report that they have either limited or stopped admissions of any new people into care homes or they have had to refuse to take on new requests for domiciliary care for people living in their own homes in the community. Some have had to hand back packages of care to the local authority because they do not have enough staff to provide them. This includes 33 per cent who said they had limited or stopped admissions from hospitals.
The 340 survey respondents estimated this amounted to approximately 5,000 people being turned away from their care services since 1 September 2021.
Care managers described the situation as “heartbreaking”. One surveyed manager said: “Previously, we took on average four hospital discharges a week plus another 3/4 reablement requests for care per week from discharge to assess. In the last 12 weeks we have only been able to take two hospital discharges due to having to reduce capacity because of staff shortages. ”
Another manager said they: “Have not got enough staff to look after new people with complex needs safely. ”
Many of the managers cited major concerns at the financial viability of any care service, with some providers having to increase wages with no increase in funding from government. These issues have been compounded by increased costs of Covid-19.
Vic Rayner OBE, Chief Executive of the NCF said: “These findings make uncomfortable reading and offer evidence of the stark reality being experienced by care providers and registered managers on the ground, and of the pressure they are under every day to provide care and support to the people who rely on them.
"The significance of this data means that people are not being discharged from hospital when they need to, to continue care and treatment at home or in residential care settings. And providers are having to make very difficult decisions about who they can support – sometimes resulting in people with high or complex needs not getting access to the care and support they desperately need. This cannot continue – it has to stop now. ”
To address the gorwing crisis in the social care workforce, the NCF are calling for the government to:
- pay a retention bonus to recognise those staff who have worked tirelessly, 24/7 for the last 19 months of the pandemic to provide care for those who need it most;
- fund a pay increase now for all care staff to improve recruitment and reduce the numbers leaving;
- add care workers to the Shortage Occupation List for a time limited period to help the care sector;
- create a new fully funded, flexible dedicated workforce fund to support the wellbeing of existing staff, highlight how valuable they are and supporting recruitment and retention;
- delay the implementation of mandatory vaccinations in care homes.
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