With staff absence rates rising across social care, particularly due to staff either testing positive for Covid-19 or being asked to self-isolate, Government has announced a new £269m funding boost to support social care providers.
The funding will allow the social care sector to support and protect staff and residents across the sector, including care homes and domiciliary care providers, by increasing workforce capacity and increased testing.
Infection prevention and control guidance, essential to effectively managing the spread of Covid-19, is also set to be reinforced.
A total of £120m in funding has been outlined to help local authorities boost staffing levels. This funding can:
- provide additional care staff where shortages arise
- support administrative tasks so experienced and skilled staff can focus on providing care
- help existing staff to take on additional hours if they wish with overtime payments or by covering childcare costs
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock 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.
“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.”
Many local authorities around the country have already began putting social care staffing initiatives in place to increase capacity and address emerging issues.
These have included care worker staff banks, where new recruits are paid during training, redeployment models where DBS-checked staff are trained and moved into operational roles and end-to-end training and recruitment services.
The new £120m pot will ensure such initiatives can continue and help other local authorities to implement similar schemes.
The remaining £149m fund will be used to support rapid testing of staff, as well as testing and facilitating visits from family and friends of residents where possible. It will also help care home providers with the costs incurred, including setting up safe testing areas, providing staff training and will contribute towards staff time spent administering and receiving tests.
This £149m funding grant is ring-fenced for lateral flow device testing in adult social care settings.
Minister for Care Helen Whately said: “This additional funding gives a boost to the social care workforce during some of the most difficult days of this pandemic so far.
“Care workers have been doing the most amazing job throughout the pandemic. In challenging circumstances, they have been caring for some of the people most at risk from this virus with compassion and skill.
“This additional £120m will support social care to cope where there are pressing staff shortages due to the pandemic and comes on top of the £149m to support safer testing.
“We’re continuing to listen to care providers to make sure they have the help they need, from free PPE to extra testing, along with all the work to vaccinate care home residents, staff and the wider social care workforce.”