Care workers could benefit from a £300 million recruitment and retention fund launched by the government, money which it said could be used to “pay for bonuses and bring forward planned pay rises” as well as for overtime payments. It is in addition to £162.5 million announced in October.
But there are serious questions about whether there will be enough staff to cover care home shifts over the Christmas period as the omicron variant spreads rapidly. Nadra Ahmed, chair of the National Care Association, told inews.co.uk that managers were feeling “extremely anxious” about maintaining services.
“We’re now seeing really high levels of concern about being able to deliver the services in the way we’d like to, and staffing is going to become an issue especially if people are going to have to isolate,” she said.
The government announcement came as the Department of Health and Social Care tightened rules on care home visits again as fears grew about the omicron variant. Under “Plan B” of its Covid strategy – implemented to cope with omicron – residents are each permitted three visitors and an essential caregiver.
Restrictions were imposed even though 70% of care home residents had received a booster jab by 10 December and vaccination teams, expanded and deployed specifically for the task, had reached 97% of older people’s care homes.
“Boosting the booster rollout in social care and updating the visiting guidance will help keep the most vulnerable people in our society safe from the virus this winter,” said health and social care secretary Sajid Javid.