Social care providers are calling on the Government to do more to cover the increased demand on their services caused by staff sickness and self-isolation during the COVID-19 crisis.
Representatives from Care England, Scottish Care, Fforwm Gofal Cymru (Care Forum Wales) and the Independent Health and Care Providers (IHCP) have formed an independent pressure group demanding that furloughed workers who wish to work in the NHS or social care can do so and still receive 80% of their usual wage.
“After speaking with care business leaders around the country, it became clear there is a fast-approaching workforce crisis that, if left unsupported, could have huge implications for the people receiving care and also the service providers ability to support the people that they are caring for,” says Professor Martin Green, chief executive at Care England.
In an open letter sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak earlier this week, the Group applauded the Government’s actions so far but urged it to recognise the staffing challenges in the social care sector.
The group wants the Government to proactively support a campaign to get more people working in social care.
“The ‘Your NHS Needs You’ campaign is likely to see more than 1,000,000 people volunteer for the NHS. The social care sector needs a similar campaign to ensure it can care for the ever-increasing number of vulnerable people needing its support,” says Green.
Simon Parker, founder of care home sector management consultancy SP&P and host of video podcast The Care Home Show, has brought the independent group of UK social care organisations together.
He says there has been a serious knock-on effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on care homes and other care services that will require a bigger care workforce to support their additional residents as they assist the NHS by freeing up hospital beds.
“This comes at a time when care teams are quickly shrinking because they themselves are having to self-isolate in large numbers due to the virus.”
Parker adds that the care home businesses he has spoken to could lose up to 50% of their staff during the COVID-19 crisis.
“Urgent clarification around furloughed workers is needed so the social care sector can support the NHS by freeing up hospital beds,” he says. “With the social care sector employing 1.6m people, it could mean the country needs an additional 800,000 workers to look after some of the most vulnerable people in society. If as a nation we do not get this right, the implications could be huge.”