Social care needs an “immediate cash injection” and new recruits to support its “exhausted workforce” amid rising absence rates, the government has been warned.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) said its request must be met “this week”, in order to prevent services for older and disabled people, their families and carers from collapse.
The organisation said “alarming gaps” are appearing in social care teams through COVID infection, self-isolation and fatigue.
A recent survey found that care providers across the UK are reporting staff absence rates of up to 50%.
The National Care Forum revealed that individual services reported between an 11% and 40% staff absence rate in the week commencing January 1, with some services revealing that over half of their staff were absent.
Along with the need for funding and new recruits, ADASS is also issuing an urgent plea for anyone with experience of care work to consider returning to the job to help the care sector get through the coming weeks.
James Bullion (pictured), ADASS president, 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.”
ADASS recently asked for an additional £480m in England to increase provision of care at home for older and disabled people so that they can live independently, with good support, and can be kept out of hospital for as long as possible.
The association is also seeking extra help for family carers who are providing the most intense support for loved ones. It says an extra direct payment of £50 a week for carers during the worst of the pandemic to enable them to pay for respite breaks and keep going until the pandemic eases.
Bullion added: “Family carers are playing a vital part in our national struggle against this deadly virus. If we fail to back them up, we will pay a high price when those they support fall back on the health and care services.”