A National Care Force has been set up to help social care providers fill staff gaps with health workers and volunteers during the coronavirus outbreak.
The free online platform, powered by health technology firm Florence, works by allowing volunteers to book shifts available across the social care sector. Shifts are posted directly by the care providers who have joined.
The National Care Force has been launched in response to vital staff shortages expected to occur due to coronavirus.
With up to 80% of the UK population projected to become infected in the next 12 months – according to a Public Health England briefing for NHS officials – extra users and staffing gaps caused by the illness will add even more strain to care services already stretched before the outbreak.
Last night, the government announced an emergency bill that will allow recently retired NHS staff and social workers to return to work without any impact on their pensions.
Home Care agencies have also expressed interested in recruiting volunteers and retirees, as well as workforce sharing across the sector.
Social care providers, healthcare workers and volunteers across the UK are able to register to use the platform now.
After going through compliance checks, including qualifications and criminal record, users update their profile with skills and experience.
Care providers follow a similar process, adding details about their care setting and skills required. The platform’s algorithm will match relevant positions to users.
Users apply for preferred positions, and the care provider will select a candidate. Everything is managed for free through the platform, which also stores reminders of upcoming shifts, and allows for cancellations.
Care professionals who can join include doctors, nurses, care workers, support workers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. They can apply for shifts covering clinical staff rota gaps in a variety of care settings.
Anyone can join as a volunteer, regardless of work background. They can apply for non-clinical work, such as picking up shopping for those self-isolating, or providing services such as cleaning and laundry.
Florence co-founder Dr. Charles Armitage said: “There is a desperate desire across the country for people to be able to do something to help but people don’t know how to channel their efforts.
“The National Care Force is a movement that will significantly impact the national effort against COVID-19 and allow everyone to play their part.
“As a company, we have vast experience in using technology to mobilise massive, flexible workforces. The whole Florence team is working nonstop to deliver this solution.”