Social care in crisis

Local authority social care services are “in the midst of a national crisis,” social services directors said in mid-January, resulting in “drastic measures” to curtail services for people in need.

In a survey by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) 49 out of the 94 councils responding said that they were taking exceptional measures to deal with the staffing crisis caused by the Omicron variant and long-standing recruitment and retention problems.

Directors said that they were having to prioritise life-sustaining care such as supporting someone to eat over other vital care needs such as helping someone to get out of bed, while people with dementia were left isolated or alone for longer periods than usual.

“These drastic measures must not become the norm,” ADASS said.  “Social care already faced a dire situation before the pandemic with 100,000 vacancies and staff leaving for better pay in shops and bars.

“This has only been compounded by increasing numbers of staff off sick or isolating due to Omicron meaning every director working with colleagues across the council has had to take incredibly difficult decisions to determine who gets care and support.”

Norfolk social care director James Bullion told the BBC that staff sickness because of Omicron had put the system under “critical pressure” for several weeks. “I’ve never seen pressure this big.  It’s a really critical and risky moment for us,” he said.