The social care sector is to receive £120m in Government funding to help tackle staff shortages, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has announced.
The DHSC said the funding has been allocated in response to calls from the sector and the impact of the new Covid variant, which has led to staff absences ‘rising sharply’.
The £120m will help local authorities provide additional care staff where shortages arise, support with administrative staff to free up experienced and skilled staff to focus on providing care, and help existing workers take on additional hours if they wish, it said.
The money will also support councils to establish or continue initiatives designed to increase capacity and address staffing issues in social care – including care worker staff banks which pay trainee staff and training and recruitment programmes, it added.
The DHSC said: ‘The funding will protect and support the social care sector, including care homes and domiciliary care providers, by increasing workforce capacity and increasing testing.’
On top of regular testing for all staff, the DHSC has also pledged that care homes will have access to additional lateral flow devices to test individuals working in more than one setting before the start of every shift.
The £120m funding package follows £149m announced in December to support the rapid testing of staff using lateral flow devices and to enable care home visits where possible.
Local authorities will be required to pass on 80% of the £149m fund to care homes on a ‘per beds basis’, with the remaining 20% to be used at the local authority’s discretion in supporting the sector, according to the DHSC.
Both funds will be made available later this month, it added.
‘Bolster staffing numbers’
Matt Hancock, health and social care secretary, said: ‘This funding will bolster staffing numbers in a controlled and safe way, whilst ensuring people continue to receive the highest quality of care.
‘Since the start of the pandemic, we have taken steps to protect care homes, including increasing the testing available for staff and residents, providing free PPE and investing billions of pounds of additional funding for infection control.’
He added: ‘Help is on the way with the offer of a vaccine, with over 40 per cent of elderly care home residents having already received their first dose.’
‘Continuous review needed’
Vic Rayner, National Care Forum (NCF) executive director, said: ‘It is positive that the Government has taken note of the extreme staffing pressure that care providers across the country are experiencing.
‘The funding announced and confirmed today is welcome news, but must be subject to continuous review. Communities across the country desperately need care organisations to be properly supported now and in the future so that they are ready and able to face every twist and turn of this pandemic.’