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Torfaen Council faces shortage of home care workers

A ‘SOCIAL care revolution’ is needed as more people live with complex needs and local authorities face ‘massive’ care worker shortages, a Torfaen council meeting has heard.

Torfaen council is facing a shortage of home care workers, with staff having been left ‘exhausted’ following the Covid-19 pandemic and rates of pay seeing some move into other jobs such as retail.

A council report on the effectiveness of social services in Torfaen over the past year highlights the “amazing work” carried out by social care staff during the Covid pandemic. In “a year like no other”, the report says staff rose to the challenge to support some of the most vulnerable people in the borough “enduring the worst times”.

But the report warns it is ‘uncertain’ how the pandemic will affect the community and social care services. A full council meeting on Tuesday heard that Torfaen Council, like many other authorities, is facing difficulties recruiting domiciliary care workers following the pandemic.

Keith Rutherford, the council’s chief officer for social care and housing, said some home care workers were moving into retail due to being paid more. “We are almost being trumped,” he said. “If we try to offer a bit more they just offer another £1 or £2.”

Mr Rutherford said government support is needed over pay levels as the council “just can’t compete”.

Cllr David Daniels, who has responsibility for adult services, said a UK-wide approach was needed to increase pay and the status of social care. He said: “The pandemic has shown the crucial nature of social care and how much we depend on social carers. If we do not act now to give parity of esteem and pay I do not know when we would.”

He added that with changing care needs and people living longer, “a social care revolution” was needed.

Council leader, Cllr Anthony Hunt said the sector has faced “a perfect storm”, with the Covid pandemic and systemic national issues. He said: “The focus is very often on the NHS but the social care sector is vital both to people’s lives and to the continuation of acute services like the NHS itself.”

Conservative councillor Huw Bevan said he hoped a national insurance rise announced by the UK Government to pay for social care would improve the situation.

The report was supported by councillors.

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Torfaen Council faces shortage of home care workers

A carer holds a man's hand