'Call to arms' to find workers to avoid Christmas care 'cliff edge'

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council.

James Bullion, executive director of adult social services at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

A recruitment "call to arms" has been made to help head off a Christmas care crisis and protect some of the most vulnerable people in Norfolk.

James Bullion, Norfolk County Council's director of adult social care, fears the care system is fast approaching "a cliff edge" in the run up to Christmas.

He has made a plea for people to consider a career in social care, amid concerns over high vacancy rates among care providers.

Mr Bullion said of the 26,000 social care jobs in Norfolk, just under 7pc were vacant and some 40pc of care employers have said staffing is of concern.

And around 450 more care workers could be lost from the front-line from November 11, when staff who work in Care Quality Commission-registered homes will need to have had two Covid-19 doses.

Care workers need better protection from coronavirus, says Norfolk adult social care director James

Norfolk County Council's adult social care director is appealing for more people to consider social care work. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Mr Bullion said: "That is a bit of a cliff edge. We need to make sure we don't give up having conversations with those people if they are worried. But it does mean we could potentially lose hundreds of workers."

He said Brexit had contributed to vacancies in the care system, while it was also having to compete with hospitality and retail for staff.

He said providers were increasingly having to hand back care contracts, while the council was working to support struggling providers.

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He said: "We are working with three providers at the moment and trying to assist them. We do have funds we will use to support them as a business to keep them going, if the quality they provide is good."

But Mr Bullion said the vacancies created opportunities for people to pursue what can be a hugely fulfilling career, leading a "call to arms" for people to consider it.

Mr Bullion said a government pot of £500m means there is around £6m to £7m available in Norfolk for training of care workers.

He said training was "crucial" to encourage people who enter the care sector to stay within it and make a career of it.

He said: "It's an interesting job and every day is different. You talk to care workers and you hear the stories about the relationships - the hugely positive ones - which carers have with the people they care for."

People can find vacancies at www.norfolkcarecareers.co.uk