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Nurse shortages in care homes ‘greater threat than COVID-19’

Provider’s warning as National Care Forum survey shows vacancies nearing 20%

National Care Forum survey shows social care vacancies were at 18%, with 43% of care home providers closed to new admissions due to staff shortages

Nurse shortages in care homes pose a greater threat than COVID-19 as providers struggle to fill nurse and other vacancies.

A survey at the start of January by the National Care Forum (NCF) showed that social care vacancies were at 18% with 43% of care home providers closed to new admissions due to staff shortages.

Care home sector facing same nurse recruitment challenges as the NHS

Front-line staff are picking up extra shifts

National Care Forum survey shows social care vacancies were at 18%, with 43% of care home providers closed to new admissions due to staff shortages

Nurse shortages in care homes poses a greater threat than COVID-19 as providers struggle to fill nurse and other vacancies
Picture: Alamy

Nurse shortages in care homes pose a greater threat than COVID-19 as providers struggle to fill nurse and other vacancies.

A survey at the start of January by the National Care Forum (NCF) showed that social care vacancies were at 18% with 43% of care home providers closed to new admissions due to staff shortages.

Care home sector facing same nurse recruitment challenges as the NHS

Front-line staff are picking up extra shifts to cover the shortages and providers are increasingly relying on agency staff with higher costs, with the NCF reporting hourly rates of up to £50 an hour for some agency nurses.

Four Seasons Health Care, the second largest independent care provider in the UK, told Nursing Standard the sector is facing the same challenges in recruiting nurses as the rest of the health service.

‘We face the same challenges in recruiting talented staff, including nurses, as the rest of the sector,’ a spokesperson said.

‘The risk of not having enough staff to care for our residents is at this point greater than the threat posed by COVID-19, which made having to let go of some of our colleagues after the vaccine mandate even more disappointing.’

Provider unable to find staff to keep nursing unit open safely

The care provider’s warning comes as Dipton Manor Care Home in County Durham announced they will close their 21-bed nursing unit after failing to fill 15 full-time nursing vacancies open for months. The vacancies had been advertised since the start of the pandemic.

Despite offering higher salaries than NHS hospitals, the provider said it could not find any nurses to keep their nursing unit open safely. They said that they could not rely on agency staff to keep the unit open.

Manor Care Group (MCG), which runs the home, said as a result they have let go three valued nurses go.

MCG operational director Vanessa Cutler said: ‘We are very saddened by the unit closure and have been battling to keep this open for some time now, but we have tried every way to employ nurses.

Staff vacancy rates growing, compounded by mandatory vaccine requirements

‘We have offered a good rate of pay beyond what nurses are paid in hospitals, but agencies win every time, which is killing nursing homes – not just in this area, but throughout the country.’

The NCF report said that social care staff vacancy rates have been growing for months, compounded by the mandatory vaccination requirement, which came into force in mid-November last year.

It added that ‘extensive delays’ in receiving PCR tests results is also exacerbating pressures, with many staff in isolation and unable to work.

In a statement, the Department of Health and Social Care said they have provided the care sector with £462.5 million for recruitment and retention, expanded the Health and Care Visa scheme, and are currently running a recruitment campaign.


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