If anything ought to make people sit up and take notice it’s the prospect of care homes recruiting volunteers to keep running over the winter. What wasn’t reported so widely is that there’s a similar long-running staffing crisis in domiciliary care, as providers struggle to find the people to deliver contracted care packages.
The ‘no-jab, no job’ policy for care home staff is what’s behind the headlines about volunteers. The questions for brokerage teams are: a) what will happen if care homes stop admitting residents because they don’t have the staff to look after them? b) what will happen if care providers face a similar challenge and they stop admitting service users because they don’t have the staff to look after them?
Does it mean a lot more pressure on domiciliary care services that are already struggling to cope with demand? And with domiciliary care there’s no option to fill staffing gaps by deploying an army of volunteers – even if such an army existed. In a care home it’s at least feasible to have close supervision of volunteers and a clear demarcation of tasks that they can safely perform.
‘Perfect storm’ has become a bit of a cliche. But with social care staffing levels we might just have one. The sector already had around 112,000 unfilled vacancies. Brexit added to this. And now the looming ‘no jab, no job’ deadline for care home staff that will make thousands more unavailable for work.
What Would 40,000 Fewer Care Staff Mean?
The government’s worst case scenario is for 68,000 care home staff to refuse the vaccine. Best-guess scenarios put the figure at 40,000. That’s a lot of vacancies to fill at short notice in an overstretched service. One hope is that as the deadline approaches, more care staff will opt to have the vaccine and be able to carry on working – but this is far from certain.
There’s no requirement for domiciliary care staff to be vaccinated yet, but the consultation is due to start imminently, according to the UKHCA and if fewer people can get the care they need in a community care setting, home care services will inevitably come under even greater pressure.
Brokerage teams will have more home care packages to place and more instances where providers hand back contracts that they cannot fulfill because staffing is in turmoil. This is not a time to be relying on labour-intensive manual brokerage processes.
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