Three quarters of care workers in England have experienced worsened mental health as a result of their work during the pandemic, according to a new survey.
GMB, the care workers’ union, has warned of a looming “care workers’ crisis” as its survey of more than 1,200 frontline professionals found their mental health declined throughout the second wave, with respondents reporting it being poorer in December and January than in September and October.
The research also found that care workers’ scores for happiness had fallen by 12% and self-reported anxiety levels had risen by 6%.
GMB said that low pay, insecure working, and inadequate sick pay were all contributing factors to poor mental health in the sector.
Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer for care, said: “Care workers have been asked to make incredible sacrifices during the pandemic, and these sobering figures demonstrate the urgent need for better support.
“Members describe having to nurse much-loved residents as they died from this terrible disease, while all the while worrying about their own safety and how they were going to pay the bills.
“Our care members are dedicated, compassionate professionals but everyone has their breaking point. For too many, the combined effect of poor employment conditions and the pandemic has been too much to bear.”
Harrison continued: “If any good is to come out of this pandemic then it must include urgent reform of the sector. Ministers and employers need to explain how they are going to care for the people who have cared for us.
“As a minimum, this must include dedicated national mental health services, a substantial increase in pay, and full sick pay cover so that care workers can afford to self-isolate when they are ill – no-one should be asked to live on £96.35 a week.”