Care homes face ‘very worrying staffing gaps’ if coronavirus outbreak worsens

Care homes could face “very worrying staffing gaps” if the coronavirus outbreak worsens, a think tank has warned.

Helen Buckingham, director of strategy at the Nuffield Trust, raised concerns that if carers are unable to work due to ill-health or their own caring responsibilities, it could have a “knock-on impact”.

Additionally, she said vulnerable people in the social care sector may need to be hospitalised – putting pressure on the health service.

It comes following the Budget announcement on Wednesday which made no mention of extra money for social care.

Ms Buckingham (pictured) said: “One of the biggest concerns about Covid-19 is how it will affect social care – a sector already struggling after a well-known funding squeeze.

“If the coronavirus outbreak gets worse, it could mean that more vulnerable people already receiving care may need to be hospitalised – compounding the strain on a health service already under significant pressure.”

She added: “What’s more, social care is very reliant on the people working within it.

“If staff are unable to work either through illness or through their own caring responsibilities, social care will face some very worrying staffing gaps, which could have a knock-on impact on the quality of care people receive.

“Local authorities will need to play an important role in overseeing the provision of social care in their area, and work alongside their local providers on resilience plans.”

Meanwhile, Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said that care and nursing homes with older people living in them would become a “mecca for the virus” should an outbreak occur.

“Care and nursing homes with older people living in them, invariably not in good health, would be a mecca for the virus if it can find its way in.

“There is a huge responsibility on managers and staff to keep the virus out and that means strictly adher(ing) to hygiene protocols, among other precautions.

“The good news is that care workers in all settings are accustomed to this, routinely wearing gloves and aprons while carrying out personal care.”

She warned that care workers could unintentionally spread the virus to a “number of older people whose health is already compromised”.

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