'We need financial certainty' Norfolk care boss' warning
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Long-term funding is needed for the care sector to take pressure off the NHS and ensure people can be looked after at home, a Norfolk care chief has said.
James Bullion, Norfolk County Council’s executive director for adult social services, warned the care system was facing a wide range of issues beyond Covid.
“There has been a lot of discussion around the death rates from Covid in care homes," Mr Bullion said.
“But that’s only part of the story for the care sector: care homes have also seen real issues with staffing as anyone with symptoms has self-isolated, leading to more pressure being put on remaining staff even as vacancies in the sector remain high.
“On top of this, here in Norfolk we at the county council have worked with a number of providers to address real financial insecurity caused by the pandemic, and while we’ve managed to avoid any major provider failure as a result here, the impact of Covid-19 is causing real problems across the care sectors.”
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Nationally, the sector has been hit by more than 30,000 deaths in care homes due to Covid, with higher staff sickness, a 40pc turnover of staff and more than 100,000 vacancies.
A county council spokesman said care homes have also been rocked by a fall in the number of new residents, often due to home managers having to close doors to help protect existing residents from Covid.
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A county council spokesperson said: “We’ve seen a fall from 92pc occupancy to 82pc as no new residents have arrived, with some individual homes seeing falls even great than the average, and having a real impact on the financial viability of some providers.”
Mr Bullion said while the care sector can recover, this required long-term change from the government.
“The care sector can recover from this and deliver the kind of care that supports our residents and takes pressure off the NHS, but to do this it needs financial certainty from the government.
“We need a multi-year settlement that lays out how and when the care sector will be funded, that will allow us to plan for the longer term and give providers confidence beyond a short 12-month cycle.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman the government is committed to ensuring people receiving care can access the support they need.
“To support social care workers’ wellbeing, the Government has invested over £1.4bn in adult social care, on top of £4.6bn for local authorities to address pressures on public services, free PPE and increased staff testing.
"We have also worked with the NHS and other organisations to develop a package of psychological and practical resources, including ‘Our Frontline’, which is a source of information and emotional support for those in need.
“Delivering a care system that is fit for the future remains a top priority and we will bring forward proposals for social care later this year.”