Care chief warns homes in Suffolk 'face dire staffing situation'

Prema Fairburn-Dorai chairs the Suffolk Assocation of Independent Care Providers and says carers hav

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, who chairs the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers (SAICP) - Credit: Archant

A social care leader in Suffolk has warned of a "dire" staffing situation - and says the government's £12billion-a-year reforms are not enough.

Prema Fairburn-Dorai, who chairs the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers (SAICP), said: "The situation is dire, and we are all extremely worried.  

"I spoke to someone from a home today where they have lost seven of their staff,  and there are other homes locally in a similar position. We just can't recruit anybody - it's desperate."

Ms Fairburn-Dorai said one issue was lack of funding to improve wages in the sector - and the funding announced on Monday did not include enough money to address this.

She warned some care homes in other areas of the country had already closed, and she feared this might happen in Suffolk in the future. 

Ms Fairburn-Dorai added some care providers were trying to recruit from abroad, but this had been made more difficult by Brexit.

"There are so many hurdles to jump through. Before Brexit, we were able to recruit people from the EU with no problem and that wasn't an issue.

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"But now we have to go through the same procedures recruiting from the EU as for anywhere else, and we can only recruit from abroad for senior positions."

She said one option which care providers were exploring locally, with help from the local authority, was greater use of volunteers.

However, they would only be able to do things like befriending and not personal care.

Ms Fairburn-Dorai said she and others in the sector were very disappointed by the government's announcement on Monday of the new NHS and social care levy - intended to bring reform in the wake of Covid-19.

Although the rise in National Insurance will raise £12bn a year for the NHS and social care, over the first three years only £5.4bn will go to social care in England.

"The money is nowhere near enough," she said, voicing fears that a lot of the money would be swallowed up in ensuring people didn't have to pay more than the "cap" of £86,000 for an individual's care.

"There won't be enough left to give our staff a proper pay rise - and we are already way behind."

MPs were voting on the tax proposals on Wednesday night. The government has said a reform of the social care system was long overdue, and Boris Johnson said the new system would relieve people of the fear of “financial ruin” from “catastrophic” care costs.

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