Charities call for social care ‘workforce crisis’ to be addressed

Realities of trying to meet costs highlighted in Age UK report
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK charity director

The National Care Forum (NCF) has called on the health and social care secretary to take immediate steps to ensure older people are not forced to remain in hospital longer than necessary this winter.

In an open letter to Sajid Javid, the forum, along with the British Geriatrics Society, Age UK, Independent Age, Care England and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy have called for steps to address the shortage of care workers in the sector.

They want an immediate bonus and pay rise for staff, and for care workers to be added to the shortage occupation list. The groups argue these steps could help stop people leaving the sector.

In the longer term, they said a sustainable plan for the recruitment, retention and support of the health and social care workforce providing care for older people was needed.

Vic Rayner, NCF chief executive, said: ‘The pressure on people is immense. Shortages in the care workforce mean that people are not able to be in the place they call home and often are spending too long in hospital where they are unable to receive the care they need. There is no time for government to delay. If we fail to take decisive action to address this workforce crisis, then we fail the people and communities that we are all here to serve.’

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, added: ‘The government must get a grip on this situation and at least try and stop the situation from becoming worse, by putting more money into care workers’ pockets now. The other UK nations have already paid retention bonuses to care workers and the government in Westminster should follow suit.’

Last week, council directors called on the government to award and fund a £1,000 bonus over the winter period for social care workers in England.

In September, the government announced social care would receive £5.4bn of the £36bn that its new levy will raise during its first three years to help support the system. Earlier this month, it launched a recruitment campaign encouraging people to follow a career in adult social care.