Home care workers in Staffordshire are to be offered extra support and loyalty bonuses, as part of plans to help retain and recruit staff this winter.
In what is thought to be the first move of its kind in the country, Staffordshire County Council and the NHS are taking new steps to tackle the rising demand for home care and staffing shortages in the sector. As part of this, the NHS is setting aside £2.8 million to support the retention of home care staff over the coming months.
Julia Jessel, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Health and Care, said: “Our care workers do a fantastic job helping people remain in their homes and supporting them when they are discharged from hospital.
“There is, however, a national shortage of home care staff, and we are working with our NHS partners to attract and keep more staff in these dedicated roles.
“As well as a recruitment drive, here in Staffordshire the county council and the NHS are giving the home care agencies more flexibility to set out staff retention schemes including potential winter loyalty payments.”
The council is also pressing the Government for a long-term national solution to the funding of social care, as care providers continue to struggle to meet the increasing demand and attract staff.
Demand for adult social care in Staffordshire alone has risen sharply this year, with requests for assessments up 21 per cent on pre-pandemic levels to nearly 1,500 a month.
Marcus Warnes, Accountable Officer for the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, said: “The NHS is dependent in so many ways on social care and carers. Carers are often the difference between getting a patient back home and keeping them in hospital. And if we have to keep them in hospital because an appropriate care package is proving difficult to arrange that bed can’t be used by anyone else and things start to grind to a halt.
“Caring is an important profession and we are happy to be supporting social care providers support their workforce.”
As part of the new winter support package, home care providers will be able to apply for additional funding for staff retention activities, including bonuses where appropriate.
Other initiatives to support the home care market are ongoing including recruitment campaigns, additional funding for providers, increasing digitisation to improve scheduling, reduce travel time and cutting paperwork.