Fuel price hikes cause 'workforce crisis' for Warwickshire care industry

By David Lawrence - Local Democracy Reporter

23rd Jun 2022 | Local News

Care staff are opting to work in care homes to avoid having to pay for fuel
Care staff are opting to work in care homes to avoid having to pay for fuel

Rising fuel prices are adding to the problems faced by care agencies as they look to fill dozens of vacancies around Warwickshire after large numbers opted to switch to jobs in residential homes to cut down on their travel costs.

Zoe Mayhew, a strategy and commissioning manager with Warwickshire County Council, told this week's meeting of the adult social care and health overview and scrutiny committee about the ongoing battle to recruit more staff.

She said: "None of you will be surprised to learn that there is a workforce crisis for frontline care nationally and we are certainly feeling that in Warwickshire.

"The current vacancy rate since March 2021 is 10.3 per cent which has increased significantly and there is a real problem within domiciliary care where the current vacancy rate is 13.4 per cent."

She explained that in the first three months of the year, there were 2.2million hours of care nationally which could not be delivered because of staff shortages.

On the subject of travel costs, Ms Mayhew added: "We are now getting feedback particularly from domiciliary care providers saying they are having a number of carers leave the service due to fuel costs.

"We have 21 carers who have left, saying that if they move into residential or nursing care then it's much cheaper for them because they don't need to run a car.

"It is beginning to have an impact on an already difficult market particularly in Warwickshire which is huge and where rurality is an issue. We are looking at how we can commission differently in terms of making provision much more localised." 

Chris Bain, from Healthwatch Warwickshire, said one of the problems with recruiting lay with the profession's negative image.

He said: "It is frequently portrayed in terms of deficit and decline and if you are beginning to approach younger candidates, is that something that will attract them? 

"It is not just carers – I was looking at mental health services and the care assistants working there and the challenges they are having. When you can earn more delivering parcels for Amazon than you can for dealing with people who have a mental illness then there is a real problem somewhere." 

Committee chair Cllr Clare Golby (Con, Arbury) added: "I think we all agree there is an image problem and we do need to get it out there that care work isn't just about going into old people's homes, giving them their tablets and then 15 minutes later legging it out the door on to your next one. 

"There is a whole plethora of skill sets you can use within the care industry and you can actually be helping out people of your own age."

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