More than 40% of care home providers are closing to new admissions due to the impact of Omicron and the limitations of government frontline support, a survey has found.
The survey of care home and home care members by the National Care Forum (NCF) recorded vacancy rates and absences of 18% and 14%, respectively, as a result of the Omicron variant.
The NCF said vacancy rates had been growing at an alarming rate over the last six months and had been compounded by policy decisions such as mandatory vaccination.
Staffing pressures meant that frontline workers are having to work extra shifts and non-care staff are having to be redeployed from other areas of organisations to deliver support, the survey found.
Care home providers are having to increase reliance on agencies at hourly rates of up to £30 an hour for carers and £50 for nurses.
The survey found national staff turnover at 39% with the south recording a rate of 44%.
Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the NCF, (pictured) said: “Staff shortages are excessively high and everything must be done to support providers to operate safe and quality services, so that people have access to the care and support they need, when they need it.”
The NCF CEO said the government had been “negligent” in its treatment of the sector with its “drip feed” approach to funding which was failing to reach providers in a timely manner.
Vic added: “Social care matters to us all, and it is imperative that policy makers properly understand and appreciate the essential part social care contributes, alleviating the many pressures in communities, including those experienced by the NHS and, most importantly, the people who need care and support.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Protecting care staff and people who use social care services continues to be a priority, especially as Omicron spreads rapidly across the country.
“Care staff are working incredibly hard, and to strengthen the workforce we have provided £462.5 million for recruitment and retention, expanded the Health and Care Visa scheme, and are running our Made with Care recruitment campaign.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have made almost £2.4 billion in specific funding available for adult social care as well as an extra £60 million to keep people in care homes safe over January.’’