Care Homes in Crisis – a harsh winter ahead?

22nd October 2021


The Care Quality Commission (CQC) says health and care staff are “exhausted and depleted” following months of work under intense levels of pressure. Many adult social care staff are now looking for work in the tourism and hospitality industry, leaving the adult social care sector in crisis.

The CQC in their recent report has called for immediate work to address the problem of rising numbers of unfilled care sector jobs, following a “serious and deteriorating” level of recruitment and retention within adult social care.

Care staff have been on the frontline against COVID-19 for over 18 months now, caring for some of the most elderly and clinically vulnerable people in our society. With staff shortages already apparent and extra vigilance being required to effectively manage the spread of COVID, many staff are now at breaking point. CEO Ian Trenholm has praised the immense “professionalism and resilience of everyone that works in social care" but warned that the staff “cannot be expected to work any harder”.

Deputy Director of Policy for The Nuffield Trust, Natasha Curry said: “The pandemic has left staff burnt-out and exhausted, pay and conditions remain unattractive compared to other sectors, the door to international recruitment has been slammed shut, and a mandatory vaccine policy threatens to remove thousands of needed staff from the sector”.

As the tourism and hospitality industry has opened up again and recruitment is high within the sector, many care staff are finding that they can work better hours for a higher wage. In an age of soaring energy prices and the cost of living increasing, who can blame them?

On Thursday, the government announced an extra £162.5 million would be spent to help boost the adult social care workforce. This amount is in addition to the £5.4 billion earmarked for the sector over the next three years from the health and social care levy.

This money has been welcomed by the CQC, but they have made it clear that "It must be used to enable new ways of working that recognise the interdependency of all health and care settings, not just to prop up existing approaches and to plug demand in acute care."

Ian Trenholm has warned that “there are no silver bullets and no simple answers to what is a very, very complex problem."

This is a worrying issue when we are heading into the colder months, with rising COVID cases and the elderly and vulnerable at risk of not receiving the care they so desperately need. A spokesperson for Age UK has reported that older people are getting stuck in hospital when they are fit to be discharged, because there are not enough care staff to support them at home.

The way out of this storm is unclear and the path will not be an easy one, the future of the sector remains uncertain at present. Any approach must prioritise the preservation of our social care sector and recognise the sacrifice and dedication of the work force in protecting our most vulnerable.

This is something for all Court of Protection practitioners to watch, the CQC report can be read in full here

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