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High social care vacancies leaving people without support, survey finds

Woman in care home.


The social care sector is unable to provide services at the level ‘desperately needed’ because almost a fifth of posts are unfilled, a survey has found.

The National Care Forum (NCF) and the Outstanding Managers Network warned of a ‘significant reduction in the amount of care available’, after their poll of 340 care services managers found an average staff vacancy rate of 17% across services.

In addition, 67% said they have either limited or stopped admissions of new people into care homes, or refused to take on new requests for domiciliary care because of pressures on services.

Vic Rayner, CEO of the NCF, said the ‘stark’ findings show the ‘pressure’ care providers and managers are ‘under every day’.

She continued: ‘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.’

The NCF and the Outstanding Managers Network called it ‘imperative’ that the Government funds a pay increase tackle the recruitment and retention problems highlighted by the survey.

They also called for the Government to:

  • Introduce a retention bonus for social care staff who have worked throughout the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Add care workers to the Shortage Occupation List for a temporary period. Roles on the list give people an advantage in obtaining a skilled worker visa.
  • Create a fully funded, flexible dedicated workforce fund to support the wellbeing of existing staff and supporting recruitment and retention.
  • Delay the implementation of mandatory vaccinations in care homes, which comes into force on 11 November.

The 340 registered managers surveyed employed 21,314 staff and supported 15,450 people across a broad range of care services. Of those who responded, 76% ran services for older people – the majority being care homes without nursing, and 24% ran domiciliary care services.

Jane Brightman, co-founder of the Outstanding Managers Network, said: ‘Care managers are exhausted, as are their teams… We’ve been calling on the Government to work with the sector to provide more support and opportunity to improve this dire situation.’

In August, the Outstanding Managers Network warned up to a fifth of adult care home staff could be dismissed after the policy to make Covid-19 jabs mandatory comes into force on 11 November