Care staff 'overwhelmed' as Covid challenges persist

Dorrington House, Dereham. Pictured are owners Steve and Lorraine Dorrington. Picture: Ian Burt

Raj Sehgal (left), managing director of ArmsCare, and Lorraine and Steve Dorrington, owners of Dorrington House - Credit: Archant

Care bosses say the coronavirus crisis is still presenting nursing homes with countless challenges - even with fewer outbreaks, looser restrictions and the success of the vaccine rollout. 

Senior staff across Norfolk have highlighted a plethora of lingering concerns, chief among them the ongoing recruitment crisis.

A report published in October said the adult social care sector in England needed to fill 112,000 job vacancies on any given day. 

And Raj Sehgal, managing director of west Norfolk-based ArmsCare, said the problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic. 

"The number of unfilled vacancies is still the single largest challenge facing the care sector," added Mr Sehgal, who runs four homes.

"If I took on 15 people tomorrow, we would not be overstaffed - and we are not alone.

Raj Sehgal, owner and managing director of Arms Care Picture: Docking House

Raj Sehgal (left), managing director of west Norfolk-based ArmsCare - Credit: ArmsCare

"We are fortunate to be able to move staff between homes, but during Covid we have not been able to do that.

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"Increasingly during the pandemic there have been reports of fatigue and burnout. Why would anybody want to go into that kind of employment?"

Steve and Lorraine Dorrington, who own Dorrington House care homes in Watton, Dereham and Wells, have been plagued by a similar shortfall. 

"We are more or less back to normal, but the controlled visiting is very time consuming," said Mr Dorrington. "Staff are overwhelmed with paperwork.

Dorrington House, Dereham. Pictured are owners Steve and Lorraine Dorrington. Picture: Ian Burt

Lorraine and Steve Dorrington, who own Dorrington House care homes in Watton, Dereham and Wells - Credit: Archant

"Wages are low, you have lots of responsibilities and, on top of that, you are dealing with Covid. In north Norfolk, it's even tougher to get staff in."

And Mrs Dorrington said staffing was just the tip of the iceberg. 

"People hear on the news that visits are allowed, for example, and they expect them to be happening that same day," she added.

"We need to be given time to put new measures in place and a lot of work goes into it.

Lateral flow testing involves taking a mouth and nasal swab to see whether coronavirus is present in the body

Covid testing has been an ongoing issue at Dorrington House care homes - Credit: Suffolk County Council

"Testing is also a big problem because a lot of older visitors are not good with technology and they need to show us a text or email with their result. It means they have to take a test when they arrive which is very long-winded.

"We don't know why but others are reluctant to take a test at home."

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