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22nd January 2022

Pressures mount on care workers as impact of Omicron revealed

Increased pressures for the social care sector continue following the impact of Omicron, a survey reports.

Findings by the National Care Forum (NCF), revealed that:

  • Around 66% of home care providers responding to the survey are now having to refuse new requests for home care
  • With 43% of providers of care homes closing to new admissions, and
  • 21% of providers of home care are handing back existing care packages

The NCF states their findings raise serious concerns at a time when ‘NHS England reports its bid to urgently discharge more patients early from hospitals to free up beds, creating additional pressure to an already overstretched sector’.

Impact of COVID-19 and care sector vacancy rates

Respondents reported 18% vacancy rate and 14% absence because of the Omicron variant. While the absence rate may be temporary, vacancy rates in the sector remain high and has been compounded by other policy decisions such as mandating vaccines as a condition of deployment.

The NCF added that frontline staff were giving it their all. This included working extra shifts and non-care staff are being redeployed from other areas of the organisation to deliver care and support.

In addition, providers are having to rely more on agency staff with respondents being quoted £50 per hour for nurses and £30 per hour for frontline staff.

COVID testing is an essential part of the support package from the DHSC. However, respondents report significant failings of the system not working well enough. There are extensive delays to PCR results and insufficient access to lateral flow tests, which are increasingly exacerbating staff shortages.

Vic Rayner OBE, CEO of the NCF, said the sector continues to see enormous pressures in the care and support sector, this time compounded by the impact of Omicron.

‘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.

Those working on the frontline describe the situation as grim, difficult and relentless. This must stop. 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.’

*All information is correct at the time of publishing. Use of this material is subject to your acceptance of our terms and conditions.

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