Crisis threatens care of oldest and most vulnerable
CAMPAIGNERS today called on the Government to act now over horrific staff shortages which are putting the future care of the country’s oldest and most vulnerable at risk.
The Independent Care Group (ICG) says the lack of action over social care was a cruel betrayal of people needing care in their own home or care and nursing homes.
New Figures from Skills for Care show that 400,000 people left jobs in care last year in a report which reveals a ‘leaky bucket’ on staffing. Skills for Care says an extra 440,000 staff will be needed to keep up with care demand by 2035. There are around 152,000 vacancies.
ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “These latest figures from Skills for Care are once again horrific and lay bare the true crisis at the heart of social care which shames us as a country.
“We know that already some 1.6m people cannot get the care they need and if shortages of staff continue that figure is going to rocket, with no end in sight and no measures proposed to tackle the current shortages let alone meet future demand.
“The Government’s social care recruitment initiative is of course welcome, but never addresses the elephant in the room which is improving pay and conditions for the workforce.
“Without the 70,000 overseas staff providers have recruited over the past year many of us would not have been able to fill shifts and provide care. That isn’t a permanent solution, and we have to create a sector in which we are able to recruit both from overseas and at home. We know it is a fulfilling, professional career but we have to reward those staff properly too.
“The report shows that social care contributes some £55.7bn to the England economy. I would argue that, with the right support, the sector will contribute even more.”
The ICG is campaigning for social care reform, including measures to properly recognise and reward its workforce and give them parity with their NHS counterparts.
“While ever social care staff lag behind those doing in many cases the same job in NHS care, we will struggle to fill vacancies and continue to see people leaving the sector and shortages,” Mr Padgham added.
“We need proper reform that sees social care and NHS care combined into a National Care Service, with proper funding to respect and reward those providing highly-skilled, professional care to people in their own home and in care or nursing home settings.
“Only then will we see these figures change and people begin to get the care they have a right to expect in the UK in 2023.”
The ICG has set out its priorities for reform in its Five Pillars of Social Care Reform document.
The five pillars are:
• Ring fence a percentage of GDP to be spent on providing social care to those who already receive it and the 1.6m who can’t get it
• Create a unified National Care Service, incorporating health and social care
• Set a National Minimum Wage per hour for care staff on a par with NHS
• Set up an urgent social care task force to oversee reform
• Fix ‘fair price for care’ tariffs for things like care beds and homecare visits.