35% of care home managers surveyed by Florence say they are “considering leaving care and looking to career change,” after a year of working through the Covid-19 pandemic.
Overwhelmed and burnt out
In what one care manager described as “The most horrific, traumatising situation I have ever been in,” the toll of a year working on the pandemic’s frontline is starkly revealed by the survey – with 50% reporting they are ‘overwhelmed and overworked’, 18% ‘completely burnt out’, and 63% saying they have had inadequate mental health support at work.
This is compounded by a feeling of being “forgotten” in comparison to the NHS and “unsupported” by the government’s changing guidelines.
“We have been left to fend for ourselves and are not valued at all,” one respondent from the north west said, on condition of anonymity.
UK care homes have been brutally affected by the pandemic, with 28,904 resident deaths caused by Covid-19 since March last year.
Care managers have carried the trauma of this experience and their personal safety fears alongside leadership responsibilities that many find to be an overwhelming load – 51% say they now spend 10+ hours more a week on Covid-related tasks on top of daily work.
These include running weekly testing of all staff and residents, managing safe virtual and in-person visitation for residents, and juggling the staff rota through sickness absence and vacancies.
30% unvaccinated care home staff
The availability of Covid vaccines has opened up another unique difficulty for care home managers – vaccine refusal among staff.
99% of managers reported having had their first vaccine dose, with the other 1% booked in and awaiting the dose.
In contract, 30% of those managers reported having staff who hadn’t had a vaccine dose, with the majority (93%) citing staff vaccine refusal. This supports recent reports of only 76.6% of care home staff having been vaccinated, compared to 98% of the NHS.
With Covid vaccination currently not enforceable for care workers under UK law (unlike Italy, where a bill has just passed), the results reveal an uneasy tension between managers’ need to protect their home, and the lack of legal backup to enforce vaccination. 45% of managers with staff who refused vaccination said they provided educational material to help convince them, one of the only further actions available to them.
With over a third of care home managers considering leaving and changing careers, and a further 20% reporting they are looking at other roles in care, the data points to a potential leadership exodus after a year of pandemic-related trauma.
This will add to adult social care’s 122,000 vacancy staffing gap, equivalent to 8% of available roles, which is likely to widen further after the continued failings social care staff have faced during the pandemic.
Dr. Charles Armitage, Florence founder, said:
“We must value and protect our social care workers at all costs, but a year on from ‘clapping for our carers’, they feel forgotten. Sadly this is also being borne out in the government’s response – there is still an 11bn funding gap to close.’
‘There is now an even greater danger of an exodus of trusted, experienced and dedicated leaders from care. We urge the government to widen provisions for mental health and financial support for all social care staff.”