Residents dying without dignity due to ‘dangerously low’ carer levels

Doctor giving encouragement to elderly patient

Care home residents are being denied a dignified end to their lives due to low staffing levels, a survey has found. 

Almost a third (31%) of 1,600 care employees’ survey by UNISON said staffing levels were dangerously low, getting worse and negatively affected the care they provided.

Further issues highlighted included people being left in dirty sheets, denied regular baths or showers, and not helped to dress until the afternoon.

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An overwhelming majority (97%) of workers said their employer was currently experiencing staffing shortages with burnout, overwork, and low pay (or better pay elsewhere) among the main reasons cited.

Two-thirds of survey respondents (67%), more than half of whom work in care homes, said they were thinking of leaving social care.

Just under half (47%) said staffing shortages were having a negative impact on the care provided.

One in five (20%) who said there were some staffing shortages but their workplace was managing, and 1% said the situation was fine and there were no serious staffing shortages.

Of those thinking of leaving social care, the top reasons staff gave were burnout, stress, mental health and wellbeing (30%), followed by better pay elsewhere or low pay (29%) and compulsory vaccination (14%). Other reasons for wanting to quit included poor treatment by their employer (11%) and overwork due to staffing shortages (10%).

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Social care is experiencing an unprecedented staffing crisis.

“Care workers are leaving in their droves – burnt out from the pandemic, exhausted from covering under-staffed shifts and fed up with low wages.

“This is nothing short of a nightmare for families worried about the care of their loved ones, overworked employees struggling to cope and employers concerned they won’t have the staff to stay open.

“The care sector is desperately short of workers and can’t wait months for the government to come up with a solution.

“Ministers should give all care employees some early festive cheer and announce an across-the-board pay rise. This would persuade many on the verge of quitting to stay and encourage more people to think seriously about working in social care.”

A Department of Health and Social care spokesperson said: “Everyone deserves high quality and compassionate care, and we are grateful for the dedication and tireless work of social care staff throughout the pandemic.

“Care homes and home care providers are now benefiting from the new £162.5 million workforce retention and recruitment fund to help ease staffing pressures.

“In addition, the government will invest at least £500 million to develop and support the care workforce as part of our £5.4 billion to reform social care.”


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The author Lee Peart


  1. Low staffing levels and low pay have always been an issue as staffing levels and wages are not regulated and left up to the owners to decide. how much they want to cut into their profit margins. Residents have been neglected and dying without dignity in private care homes since they opened.

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