The Registered Nursing Home Association (RNHA) said today that, subject to the right level of funding being provided by central government and local authorities, care assistants working in nursing homes should be paid more than the proposed national living wage of £7.20 an hour when it is introduced next April.
Commented RNHA chief executive officer Frank Ursell: “We have believed for many years that care assistants are underpaid for the work they do and for the responsibility they carry in looking after some of the country’s most vulnerable and dependent people.
“But the costs of around two thirds of our patients are met by local authorities through government grants. So until or unless those grants are increased and are ring-fenced, we shall struggle even to pay the £7.20 figure identified by the Chancellor, let alone any higher figure.”
He added: “If there were any justice, then care workers would be paid around £9 an hour from next April. That, in our opinion, would reflect what they truly deserve. As things stand, however, that is way beyond our budgets. But were the government to reverse its draconian cuts and give local authorities sufficient funds for adult social care, nursing homes would be able to increase staff wages to an appropriate level.
“If we could do that, we are confident that the current recruitment problems faced right across the sector would be effectively addressed. Almost certainly we would be able to compete in our local economies and attract people who would like to make social care a long-term career.
“Staff turnover would be reduced and we would be better able to retain individuals who have gained a few years’ valuable experience. That, in turn, would have a direct impact on the quality of care being delivered on a daily basis. All these issues are irretrievably inter-connected.”