Providers urge Government to allow furloughed workers to be paid for social care roles

Care providers are calling for the Government to give the green light for furloughed staff from other industries to work in care and still be paid, amid a worrying workforce shortage.

A group of care providers including Independent Health and Care Providers (IHCP), Care England, Scottish Care and Fforwm Gofal Cymru, say there is an urgent need to plug the gaps in the social care workforce.

Staff absences due to sickness and self-isolation during the Covid-19 outbreak are likely to increase as more cases emerge.

The organisations want the Government to clarify, in legislation, that furloughed employees wishing to work in the NHS or social care provision can take up paid employment while still receiving up to 80% of their salary.

The groups, who represent 1.2 million vulnerable people across all forms of social care in the UK, have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

They want him to ensure people receive no “penalty” for wishing to help.

Professor Martin Green (pictured), chief executive of Care England, which represents over 3,700 social care providers, said members were already facing critical shortages.

He said the Government’s action would help members recruit “during a time when there is a huge increase in demand on our staffing”.

He said: “The next few weeks will be absolutely critical and if we are to support some of the most vulnerable people in our society then we need to ensure that we have enough staff to be able to deliver the care and support which is so vitally needed.

“What we need is for Government to urgently change legislation so that people who have been furloughed from other sectors can move seamlessly into social care roles to help us in meeting the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.”

He added: “This action would have a significant positive impact on our staffing and our ability to maintain the high level of care we currently provide.

“It would help us support our existing workforce’s health and wellbeing and provide cover for the inevitable loss of staff to sickness and self‐isolation.”

One carer the PA news agency spoke to estimated around 50% of the workforce at their care home have had to self isolate at some point during the last few weeks.

A manager at a smaller home said around a quarter of the staff had been forced to stay at home.

Methodist Homes (MHA), which runs 160 care and retirement homes, said about 11% of its workforce is currently self-isolating.

And 50% of its homes have confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19.

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