Social care needs an immediate cash injection and new recruits to support its exhausted workforce, ADASS has said.
The association said “alarming gaps” were appearing in social care teams through COVID infection, self-isolation and “sheer fatigue” in a sector which had 112,000 vacancies prior to the pandemic.
ADASS also made an urgent plea for anyone with experience of care work to consider returning to the sector in the coming weeks.
James Bullion, ADASS president (pictured), said: “Like our NHS colleagues, social care workers have never been under such pressure. They are doing more than ever before, but absences are high and rising and our capacity to keep vital services going is at grave risk.
“We need funding, now, to enable care providers to recruit extra skilled pairs of hands and we are asking anyone who has done care work in the past to think very seriously about returning to help us get through this. Every single person who steps forward will be making a huge contribution.”
With news that major supermarket chain, Morrisons, is to pay its staff a minimum of £10 an hour from April, when many care workers are only paid £8.91, ADASS is urging a major overhaul of pay and conditions for care workers. ADASS is calling for a national care wage of at least £10.90 and significant investment in training and creation of career paths to put social care work on a par with that in the NHS.
James added: “The extraordinary courage and dedication shown by our 1.5 million care workers during the COVID-19 crisis must be recognised. The pandemic has opened people’s eyes to the essential contribution they make to our society for such relatively low reward.”
A DHSC spokesperson said: “We understand the need to attract more staff to the care sector, and last year we ran a national recruitment campaign which highlighted the vital role that social care workers have played throughout the pandemic, along with the longer-term opportunities of a career in care.
“The Government knows the sector is currently facing acute pressure, caused by the escalating number of infections in recent weeks and are working with local authorities and providers to ensure we are doing everything we can to support care services during this challenging period.
“We have done everything we can to protect care homes throughout the pandemic by investing billions of pounds of additional funding, providing free PPE, infection control guidance and increased staff testing.”