Gravity of North Yorkshire social care staff crisis underlined

Photo: unclelkt (pixabay.com)

The gravity of the staffing crisis in social care has been underlined as it emerged North Yorkshire County Council was set to launch its biggest ever recruitment drive in response to plummeting numbers applying for social care jobs.

A full meeting of the council next week will hear at least three of its executive members highlight concerns over the 70 per cent drop in applications for jobs in social care across the 500 providers in the county since July and providers continuing to go out of business, partly due to staff costs.

In an attempt to fill hundreds of vacancies at residential care homes, providers in the county are offering extra financial incentives to staff to take on the roles, from a £1,500 golden handshake for a care setting nursing role in Northallerton to carers being offered £2,000 for referring three friends.

The alerts come after the authority said it was having to intervene in a number of care homes to keep them staffed and the government undertook to provide workforce recruitment and retention funding to support local authorities and providers to recruit and retain sufficient staff over winter.

In a statement to the meeting, the authority’s leader, Councillor Carl Les, said: “I am pleased that as the government launches a nationwide initiative we are undertaking more locally the biggest ever recruitment campaign to attract people into a rewarding and progressive career.”

The council has recently warned the situation would only worsen with about 200 fewer care workers in the county due to rules requiring all care workers to be vaccinated.

Before Thursday’s (November 11) deadline numerous foreign-born care staff in North Yorkshire had stated to leave the UK if they had to have the Covid jab to work.

Care workers have also suggested the lack of pay progression, with staff with more than five years’ experience being paid just 6p more an hour than those with less than a year in the role in 2020-21 is a cause of recruitment difficulties.

In a statement to the meeting, Councillor Michael Harrison, the authority’s adult social care executive member said the county’s situation reflects fierce competition within the labour market alongside hospitality, retail, heavy goods transport and construction.

He said: “Pressures are building within nursing, residential home and domiciliary care capacity as a result of workforce pressures within the external market, and we continue to see provider failures in the system.

“Packages of care are being handed back to the council to either re-source or find alternative solutions to keep people safe. This is putting significant pressure on and impacting our in-house provision as we try to find solutions for people or fill the gaps using staff from our services.

“This is impacting our ability to provide reablement and respite services. Complex care packages are being handed back at short notice alongside those requiring two carers or in more rural locations. In addition we are
seeing care home providers withdraw from providing nursing care or withdraw
completely from the market.”

Warning of “difficult choices” in the upcoming Budget, the council’s finance boss Councillor Gareth Dadd will tell the meeting as securing the necessary workforce remains acutely challenging it brings the risk of having to use more expensive provision to meet need.

In an attempt to ease staffing pressures, the council is working with providers and is about to launch a recruitment campaign focusing on the diversity of career opportunities in care.

Coun Harrison said: “We are working with providers and partners to look at options and ideas to work moreefficiently and promote people’s safety should we not manage to recruit more people to the sector.

“A system plan is in place with short, medium and long term actions to address issues relating to workforce, which includes capacity for registered manager support to care homes, recruitment to reablement, and recruitment to NHS posts to ensure sufficient intermediate capacity is available to meet the growing demand.”