Retired care workers being asked to return to work could help support those most at risk of the coronavirus outbreak and provide a much-needed boost to an already over-stretched social care workforce, say council leaders.
The Local Government Association, which represents councils, says the Government should consider how it could help retired care workers who may want to or be able to return to work.
Care workers do a hugely important job supporting older and vulnerable people, such as by helping them to get washed and dressed, or preparing food. In some cases they are the only contact people have. The LGA says these workers are needed more than ever.
While the Government has introduced measures for doctors and nurses to come back to the NHS and social workers to social care, the LGA says the Government should extend its thinking to care workers to help boost the social care effort.
Bringing back experienced care workers to the profession would help to support people discharged from hospital to free up beds for those being treated for coronavirus.
It would also enable councils to better support the 1.5 million vulnerable people identified by the Government as most at risk from coronavirus and needing to stay at home for 12 weeks.
Even if some of these were to return to work, it would significantly strengthen the ability of the social care workforce to provide the much-needed support vulnerable people will require in the coming weeks and months ahead.
Those recently retired would also be experienced care workers, and would not need much in terms of refresher training to be able to return to work.
Retired workers looking to return could, for example, be asked to contact the employer they retired from. The sector could also set up regional contact groups so that returners could join other employers if the original employer didn’t need them.
Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Across the country, councils, as a fourth emergency service, are stepping up to support the unprecedented challenge of the coronavirus outbreak.
“Making sure older and vulnerable people get the care and protection they need to stay safe and well is priority number one for councils.
“The recently announced funding for councils to support the most vulnerable will help councils do everything they can to ensure people are able to access vital care and support.
“The coronavirus outbreak will severely test and stretch our social care workforce, who already do a tremendous job in the face of extreme pressures.
“But supporting retired care workers to return to work could be a significant booster measure for the sector, to get through the highly challenging weeks and months ahead.”