Essex County Council is providing emergency funding of £2.5 million to address care sector staff shortages by giving £100 for every care home bed it commissions.
As some care home managers fear they will be forced to shut care homes if they cannot get enough staff, a forward plan decision statement from the council stated: 'The decision relates to the award of money to care homes to help them deal with the current staffing difficulties they are experiencing.
'It is proposed to pay all care homes from which ECC commissions care a sum of £100 per bed.
'This is likely to cost around £2.5m.
'Payment will be subject to compliance with the terms of a grant agreement which will require the money to be spent on specified activities or returned to ECC.'
Care home managers fear they may have to shut homes
Nationwide the social care sector needs over 100,000 job vacancies to be filled to address workforce shortages, according to Skills For Care.
The Institute of Health and Social Care Management, which recently carried out a snap poll of its members, highlighted the extent of the recruitment crisis.
Over 200 care home managers responded to the poll which showed 63 per cent are worried their care homes may have to shutdown because of understaffing.
Some 81 per cent of those responding (who represent more than a third of institute members) are concerned the safety of residents in their care homes is being compromised by staff shortages.
The sector's workforce crisis means around 5,000 people have been turned away from care services since 1 September, according to poll by the National Care Forum (NCF). Some 67 per cent say they have limited or stopped admissions of new people into care homes or had turned down requests for community care.
The mandatory Covid-19 vaccine deadline of 11 November for care home staff is exacerbating workforce challenges. The government estimates up to 100,000 workers could leave the care sector because they are not fully vaccinated.
The government has announced that care homes and home care providers will benefit from a new £162.5 million workforce retention and recruitment fund to attract the care workforce.
Tim Cooper, the chief executive of disability charity United Response said: “This year’s CQC State of Care report reinforces much of what is already widely known – that the social care crisis has now gone from bad to worse and things must change fast.
“Health and social care staff are exhausted from managing the pandemic, and the CQC rightly considers this a key finding of its report. The workforce is quickly becoming depleted as we head into the challenging winter months. Urgent action is needed to tackle staffing issues and the increased stresses caused by staff shortages.
"The Chancellor must use this week’s Spending Review announcement to confirm ring-fenced monies for local authorities to fund fair rates of pay for social care workers and swiftly stave off the ‘tsunami’ of unmet care across the country this winter.”
Care market 'very stressed and stretched'
At a Health and Wellbeing Board meeting in September, Essex County Council’s adult social care director Nick Presmeg highlighted the challenges facing the social care sector.
Nick Pressmeg said: "The care market is very stressed and very stretched - you can earn more money picking pears than you can providing domiciliary care. If you work 40 hours a week you will earn £17,000 and you will have travel costs. That is not sustainable."
At a meeting on October 12, councillors discussed the subject of giving care workers a pay rise. Councillor John Spence, who is responsible for adult social care in Essex, said that paying care workers a Real Living Wage, which is currently £9.50 per hour, would cost Essex taxpayers £15 million and is a decision which must be "properly costed".
Cllr Spence said he is "very firmly committed" to improving the lives of care workers who work for the county council directly and those in the private sector. "We do want to see pay increase. But the answer lies in the new Health and Care Bill and social care reforms.”
The government has announced a new £162.5m retention and recruitment fund to support care home and home care providers.
The ring-fenced funded, which is available until the end of March 2022, will support the recruitment of staff and help retain existing workers through providing overtime payments and staff banks of people ready to work in social care.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) said: “I want to thank care workers for their commitment and tireless efforts throughout the COVID-19 pandemic – we owe them a debt of gratitude which I am determined to repay through ambitious, sustainable social care reform that prioritises their skills and wellbeing.
“This dedicated funding will help local authorities bolster staff numbers and care workers to continue delivering high-quality care for everyone who needs it.
“Throughout the pandemic, the government has provided almost £2 billion towards infection control and testing and over £6 billion has been made available to local authorities to address pressures on their services, including social care.
“This funding is in addition to the £388 million announced in September 2021 to support infection control, testing and to boost flu and COVID-19 vaccines in care homes ahead.
“In the longer term, the Health and Social Care Levy will see a total of £5.4 billion invested in adult social care – including £500 million for staff training to reduce staff turnover and enable carers to achieve recognised qualifications alongside their day-to-day work.”
Cathie Williams, Chief Executive of ADASS said: “In the run up to what promises to be an incredibly difficult winter, it is important to know that we set out to Government the need for an additional £1.5 billion to stabilise the supply of care and support, including the essential workforce, and £1.5 billion to support unpaid carers.
“This additional funding is very welcome, but it is not sufficient and equates to around £100 per care worker. We await the promised Winter Plan and the upcoming Spending Review for further details of how the promises of long-term solutions will be met; so that the committed, courageous and compassionate people working in social care feel valued and rewarded, family carers are supported and those of us with care and support are enabled to live good lives.”
Care providers are facing a staffing crisis as recruitment and staff retention is fast becoming a "serious and deteriorating" situation with "increasing numbers" of people unable to access care, the care regulator has warned.
In its latest State of Care report, published today, the CQC warns social care staff are "exhausted and depleted" and while staffing is an issue for all sectors, the CQC is concerned with social care and warns other vacancies in hospitality, retail and travel could increase further as they speed up recruitment with offering incentives to new staff. These industries could also offer higher salaries than the care sector.
The CQC report reveals staff vacancy rates in care homes have increased from six per cent in April 2021 to just over 10 per cent in September 2021.
Ian Trenholm, chief executive of CQC says: “We’re seeing rising vacancy rates with some providers having to hand back their registrations as they don’t have enough staff to deliver care, and examples of quality suffering due to lack of staff.
“This will lead to reduced capacity and choice, and poorer quality care for the people who rely on social care, resulting in a ripple effect across the wider health and care system that risks becoming a tsunami of unmet need across all sectors, with increasing numbers of people unable to access care.
"If nothing changes, social care will continue to lose staff to other sectors, outside of health and social care."
Mr Trenholm called for urgent government funding to recruit and retain more staff, training for all social care staff, higher levels of pay and good terms and conditions to “attract and retain” the right people.
'Without further action, a bleak winter lies ahead'
Yesterday, the government announced that care homes and home care providers will benefit from a new £162.5 million workforce retention and recruitment fund to bolster the dedicated care workforce.
This is on top of the Health and Social Care Levy of £5.4bn which includes £500 million for staff retention and training.
The National Care Forum (NCF) says the £162.5 million additional funding is a “drop in the ocean” of what is needed to address these challenges.
Vic Rayner, chief executive of NCF said: “Many of the actions they are calling for echo the stark messages that we have been giving for several months now – the urgent need for action to support the workforce with a retention bonus and an immediate pay increase, along with care workers being included in the Shortage Occupation List.”
Cathie Williams, ADASS chief executive said: “The government's announcement of a further short-term injection of funding for workforce is welcome but a small proportion of what is needed and very late in the day given the worsening recruitment and retention situation. “One-off Covid funding has ensured the short-term, but not the long-term viability of struggling providers.
“Without further action, a bleak winter lies ahead.”
'We must invest to ensure there are enough care workers to meet needs'
Workforce data from Skills for Care also shows that vacancy rates are increasing. Vacancy rates were highest for home care services at 11.3 per cent and for registered nurses at over 13 per cent.
Regionally, London has the highest vacancy rate at 11 per cent with the North West having the lowest vacancy rate at 6.5 per cent.
Skills for Care chief executive Oonagh Smyth said: “CQC has rightly focused this year’s State of Care report on the challenges facing social care, including the unprecedented pressures on our workforce.
“We particularly welcome CQC’s recognition of the interdependency of health and care services, and their call for greater collaboration across services utilising the skills of a stable social care workforce. As social care goes through a period of reform, we must use this evidence to ensure any changes value our workforce, and the difference they make to the lives of people.”
The Homecare Association said while it was pleased the CQC recognises the risk of unmet needs in adult social care, home care demand is rising, but many providers are having to turn down new requests for help due to issues over recruiting and retaining staff as well as years of “inadequate government funding”.
Dr Jane Townson, chief executive for Homecare Association said: “We must invest to ensure there are enough care workers to meet needs, so older and disabled people can live well at home, surrounded by those they love, and connected to their communities.”
“We continue to call on the government to use the Spending Review to invest adequately in home care [and] ensure homecare workers are paid fairly and on a par with equivalent public sector roles. The Health and Social Care Levy is a start but is nowhere near enough to address underlying workforce issues.”
Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG) said: “Beyond the quick fix of £162.5 million, we are planning for a very difficult and challenging winter period.
"Voluntary sector disability provision is distinct because of its reliance on state funding and unlike other industries such as retail and hospitality, our members are unable to increase fees to cover for increased pay that we all want to see.”
'Care workers need better reasons to stay in the job when retail and hospitality offer more pay'
The CQC report also shows staff sickness rates doubled from 2.6 per cent before the pandemic to five per cent between March 2020 and June 2021.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK said the extra pressures of the last eighteen months has made “workers and managers tired” and an increase in the “backlog of people in need of care.”
Ms Abrahams said: “One of the consequences is older people are getting stuck in hospital again when they are medically fit to be discharged, simply because there is not enough care to support them when they get home.
“This is deeply ominous for the NHS, with the worst of winter yet to come.
“Care workers need better reasons to stay in the job when retail and hospitality now offer much more attractive pay and conditions.”
Thousands of people are being turned away from care services due to the staffing crisis engulfing social care.
A survey by the NCF and The Outstanding Mangers Network estimates that approximately 5,000 people have been turned away from care since 1 September.
The survey, which covered 340 registered managers running services that employed 21,314 staff and supported 15,450 people across a broad range of care services, found an average staff vacancy rate of 17%.
More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents said they have had to limit or stop admissions into care homes or refuse new requests for domiciliary care.
This includes 33% who said they had limited or stopped admissions from hospital.
Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of National Care Forum, (pictured) said: “These findings make uncomfortable reading and offer evidence of the stark reality being experienced by care providers and registered managers on the ground, and of the pressure they are under every day to provide care and support to the people who rely on them.
“The significance of this data means that people are not being discharged from hospital when they need to, to continue care and treatment at home or in residential care settings. And providers are having to make very difficult decisions about who they can support – sometimes resulting in people with high or complex needs not getting access to the care and support they desperately need. This cannot continue – it has to stop now.”
The NCF is calling on the government to act now by: paying a retention bonus to recognise staff who have worked tirelessly over the last 18 months; fund a pay increase for all care staff to improve recruitment and reduce the numbers leaving; add care workers to the Shortage Occupation List for a limited time; create a new fully funded, flexible dedicated workforce; and delay the implementation of mandatory vaccinations in care homes.
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “We appreciate the dedication and tireless efforts of care workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. We are providing at least £500 million to support the care workforce as part of the £5.4 billion to reform social care.
“We are also working to ensure we have the right number of staff with the skills to deliver high quality care to meet increasing demands. This includes running regular national recruitment campaigns and providing councils with over £1 billion of additional funding for social care this year.”
Cutting-edge research revealed by QCS’s Dementia Care Champion, Jackie Pool (pictured), strongly supports the wellbeing benefits of a therapeutic soft, comforting device for people with advanced dementia.
HUG, which is being released today, is the brainchild of the Cardiff Metropolitan University’s LAUGH team. It has also been supported by a number of key stakeholders, including the Alzheimer’s Society, the Welsh Government, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), who, between them, have funded the research and development of the therapeutic device.
The QCS Pool Activity Level instrument (PAL), created by Jackie Pool and with the continued support of QCS, the leading provider of content and guidance for the social care sector, has been contributing to the validation of the therapeutic soft, comforting device for people with advanced dementia.
A landmark study using the QCS PAL Instrument, which assesses the level of functional ability of people with cognitive impairments, revealed that 87% of those with dementia who used the HUG device over a six-month period saw an improvement in their wellbeing.
In addition, Jackie Pool, QCS’s Dementia Care Champion, has developed a set of specific QCS HUG PAL Guides, which ensure that people living with dementia are supported at ‘just the right’ level and are enabled to engage with HUG in the most meaningful way possible.
The HUG device, which can be purchased on the HUG by LAUGH website and Alzheimer’s Society’s online shop for £125, increases wellbeing in a number of ways. Its weighted limbs, soft body and simulated beating heart, help mimic a human hug.
With a vast body of scientific research validating music as a powerful medium, which helps people to express themselves and unlock past memories, the therapeutic device has also been fitted with a music player. The MP3 player, which is linked to a hard drive, has been specially built to make it easy for carers to upload music onto HUG, via several different platforms.
Over the last three years, HUG, has been trialled in a number of settings across the entire health and social care spectrum, as well as homes, where it has been shown to consistently provide comfort and reduce anxiety.
Now that it is being launched, Professor Cathy Treadaway of Cardiff Metropolitan University, said: “It is incredibly exciting and rewarding to know that people with advanced dementia can finally enjoy the wellbeing benefits that HUG brings. We are also incredibly fortunate to have received funding for our research collaboration from Welsh Government, the AHRC and Alzheimer’s Society, and we are indebted to Jackie Pool and QCS for validating the therapeutic merits of HUG.”
Jackie Pool, QCS’s Dementia Care Champion, added: “When I was first approached by Professor Treadaway and her team at Cardiff Metropolitan University, I jumped at the chance to be involved. HUG may not provide a cure for dementia, but I strongly believe, and the evidence supports it, that this soft comforting device has the power to profoundly improve the wellbeing of those living with dementia at all levels and to provide the means for care givers to make a meaningful connection with individuals. That in itself, makes it a game changer.”
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released figures on how many people were self-funding their stay in a care home in England before the pandemic.
The statistics on care homes and estimating the self-funding population in England found that around one in three people, or 36.7%, were self-funding care. The figures also show that there was a regional divide: While the south-east had the highest proportion of self-funders with 45.4%, the north-east had the lowest with 24.6%. And while care homes located in the least deprived areas had a statistically higher proportion of self-funders, at 53.8%, care homes in the most deprived areas had only 21.6% self-funders.
The statistics also show that homes providing care for older people had the highest proportion of self-funders with 49.6%. Care homes providing care for younger adults had the lowest proportion of self-funders with 4.8%.
Health and social care expert Joanne Ellis of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said that the figures throw into stark relief what care home operators have been saying for years.
"Many local authority (LA) rates are untenable in their own right and they are dependent upon the ability to charge self-funders more to make LA funded rates work. These statistics show the extent to which operators are forced to rely on the cross subsidisation from self-funders who are being provided with exactly the same service," she said. "These figures will play a key role in informing the serious changes that are needed to create a sustainable care system that is fair for everyone. This is particularly important with the introduction of the new cap - a lifetime limit of £86,000 - on an individual’s contribution as the true cost of care is going to have to be faced."
This is the first time that the ONS has published figures on self-funding of care home residents, relying on data collected by the Care Quality Commission between August 2019 and February 2020 and analysing it using a new experimental method.
Ellis said it was the first time the full extent of the phenomenon of cross subsidisation will be understood: "Currently the only way for many care home operators to make the local authority funded rates work is to charge self-funders up to 40% more. These stats are likely to throw that dynamic into stark relief."
She also said that the report may only cover residential care rather than home care but that this was just as significant to understanding the extent of self-funding: "With the current shortages of care workers, operators have understandably had to shift their focus away from LA funded to self-funded service users in order to prioritise those paying the higher rates. This cannot be the right message for a fair society in general. Currently the self-funders mask the extremely low and in many cases unworkable LA rates."
Only recently, changes to the way in which healthcare and social care in England are funded, including a cap on the lifetime amount payable by those requiring care, have been proposed by the UK government.
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