Staffing at UK care homes 30% less than needed, survey finds

Posted: January 17th 2022


A depressing story – this article tells us:

Care homes are missing a third of the staff they need and more than one in four have closed their doors to new admissions in a deepening labour crisis that is “putting safety and dignity at risk”.

With thousands of care workers off sick with Covid on top of a rising number of vacancies, the situation in social care has become “grim, difficult and relentless”, according to the National Care Forum (NCF), which ran a survey of its not-for-profit care-home members.

Omicron absences are running at 14% on top of an 18% vacancy rate – a sharp increase on estimates before the pandemic – as beleaguered care workers quit jobs, often for better paying roles in retail or warehouses. The picture is even worse for domiciliary care, with two-thirds of providers forced to decline families’ new requests for help because they are short of carers.

The executive director of the NCF, Vic Rayner, said the worsening situation showed the government’s approach to tackling the problem of staff shortages by giving social care “crumbs from the table” was negligent.

We “have been highlighting the growing shortages in the workforce and the knock-on impact on those who remain working in the sector and those who use care and support services for many months”, she said. “How many times does this message need to be repeated for it to be heard?”

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has provided councils with additional funds to pay bonuses to retain staff, and late last month it extended the visa programme for foreign workers to care workers, care assistants and home-care workers. Such measures, however, are yet to fill widening gaps in the workforce.

The figures came as MPs and peers were told that staff shortages in social care had worsened the lives of people who live in care homes and increased the risk of undernourishment and dehydration.