Care HomesNews

Meltdown Edges Closer as Care Crumbles

Care rationed as homes and homecare struggle

CARE of our oldest and most vulnerable is on the edge of meltdown as the staffing crisis robs them of the help and support they need.

Today the care provider organisation, The Independent Care Group (ICG) called for urgent Government intervention as the sector struggles.

Severe staffing shortages and falling incomes are pushing many providers to the brink of survival.

At least 49 councils in England are having to ration care for those eligible for support, ADASS has reported.

And a National Care Forum survey found that 43% of homes are closing to new admissions and 66% of home care providers are having to refuse new requests.

ICG Chair Mike Padgham said: “If we could, as a sector, we would declare a state of emergency in social care.

“Of the two years we have gone through with the pandemic, this is the worst point in terms of continuing to deliver care.

“We have been warning for months that the staffing situation was becoming critical but have yet to receive any proper support.

“Now we see evidence that care is being rationed, providers are having to limit what they offer and vulnerable people are suffering.

“That is our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends.”

The Omicron variant of Covid-19 and the rising staff absences it is causing, has exacerbated an already critical shortage of care staff. At the same time, care homes with Covid-19 outbreaks cannot take new admissions until 28 days after their last positive test. This means that homes are suffering severe financial hardship through a drop in income.

“This double-whammy is putting the whole delivery of social care at risk,” Mr Padgham added.

The Association of Directors of Social Services (ADASS), said, following a survey, that half the councils that responded were taking difficult decisions over who gets care and who misses out.

“Some 1.5m people are already not getting the care they need at all,” Mr Padgham added. “Now we are hearing that even those that get care are having it rationed because there simply isn’t enough care to go round.

“The President of ADASS, Stephen Chandler has described the current situation as ‘lockdown by another name’ and that is a scandal.

“How long is the Government going to sit around, wringing its hands and allowing this neglect to go on?”

The ICG is seeking urgent action to combat the staff shortage and Mr Padgham has twice written to the Government urging it to set up a bank of volunteers to help in care settings.

Beyond that, it is campaigning for root and branch reform of the sector to get more money into social care and to properly recognize, respect and reward those working in it.

ADASS wants at least an extra £7bn to be invested in social care, rising to £9bn by 2024-25, and a social care minimum wage equal to what the NHS pays for similar work.