The UK social care industry is warning of a staffing crisis as shortages in care homes, exacerbated by vaccine mandates, continue to grow.
Compounded by November's "no jab no job" requirement for care home staff, the industry is warning of a staffing crisis in social care as the staff vacancy rate “continued to steadily increase” throughout last year to reach 11.5 percent at the end of December, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) said.
This is almost double the 6 percent vacancy rate from April 2021.
According to the new figures, more than 1 in 10 care home staff positions in England were unfilled at the end of 2021.
The data are based on responses to the regulator between April 1 to Dec. 31, concerning 8,260 services, which is around 54 percent of all residential adult social care services.
The CQC warned last year of a “serious and deteriorating” situation in terms of recruitment and staff retention in adult social care.
The organisation said that people were leaving the sector to work in hospitality and tourism as society reopened following COVID-19-related lockdowns, and warned that others may take up vacant nursing posts in hospitals.
Vic Rayner, CEO of the National Care Forum, which represents the care and support sector, spoke of a "deteriorating situation."
“For months now, the National Care Forum has been warning of a staffing crisis in social care as reported by our members. Providers responding to our most recent survey in January 2022 reported evidence of a deteriorating situation, with 18 percent vacancy rate and a further 14 percent absence because of the Omicron variant," Rayner said in a statement.
“This data is backed up by ADASS’s winter contingency survey which has found that 49 local authorities are now rationing the care services they commission or taking a number of other exceptional measures, due to staffing shortages. This crisis has not been created by Omicron, rather the pandemic has exacerbated pressures caused by chronic underfunding and a lack of workforce planning that were years in the making," she said.
One care provider called for an emergency volunteer army for social care in case they run out of staff, adding that the government should also appeal for retired nurses, doctors, and carers to come forward to help.