Devon to receive a share of £240 million for social care to ease NHS winter pressures

Posted on: 19 October 2018

Devon County Council has welcomed the Government’s announcement of extra funding for social care, designed to ease NHS winter pressures.  But it warns ‘money alone will not fix the county’s bigger challenge’, which is that there are not enough people working in the domiciliary care sector in Devon.

The Government has announced a £240 million fund to help councils alleviate winter pressures on the NHS, to get patients home quicker, and to help avoid hospital admissions for preventable complaints.  Devon County Council is set to receive an extra £3,575,532.

The Council says that the new money is very welcome, and that it will support the ‘home first’ approach that they and the NHS have already developed to help support people in their own homes.

The ‘home first’ approach is putting extra capacity into short term services so that people can regain their independence quickly after a spell in hospital, and it’s building good relationships with care homes to avoid unnecessary delays for people leaving hospital.

But of more concern to the council and to care providers are staffing levels, and whether care organisations have sufficient numbers of care workers to meet demand this winter.

“The extra money is very welcome of course,” says Councillor Andrew Leadbetter, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for adult social care.

“But money alone will not fix the county’s bigger challenge this winter – there are too few people working in the domiciliary care sector in Devon.

“Care providers are doing an excellent job and I want to thank them for everything they do, but they’re stretched.

“Home care providers are already under pressure to meet demand and this will only increase over the winter.

“This is not a workforce that can come from elsewhere – it is only if people in our county come forward to work in the care sector that we will be able to meet the needs of our neighbours, friends and families this winter.”
Recent estimates show there are around 1,200 jobs in adult social care vacant now in Devon.

“These are good jobs, helping people stay safe, warm and well in their own communities.

“The more support there is available to people in their community, the less they will need to call upon acute services this winter.”

The Council has stepped up its Proud to Care Devon, a recruitment campaign encouraging people to consider careers in care, and now with a focus specifically on jobs in the domiciliary care sector.

Jean Pearn started her career in care aged 48.  She says, it’s never too late to start a career in care.

“I’d had several different jobs including office and factory work, and more recently working in restaurants and catering.

“When I felt my job in catering had run its course, I was ready for a change.  At 48, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and my daughter who was a care worker said I’d be great working in care.

“I remember her saying, ‘Mum, you always care for people and enjoy helping people, so why not do this as a job?’.

“I didn’t realise it myself but it was true, and becoming a care worker was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

“I already had an insight in to care because I’d cared for family members and supported neighbours. My daughter worked as a care worker in a residential care home, so I had an idea what to expect.

“What I wasn’t expecting was how rewarding I’d find the role compared to anything I’d done in the past.

“Leaving someone happy and smiling, knowing you’ve supported them to get there, is a wonderful feeling!

“Over the last 16 years I’ve had several interesting and varied roles in care. My first role was working with adults with learning disabilities and challenging behaviour, supporting them to live as independently as possible in their own home or in a care home. It was challenging but so rewarding, seeing the difference you make every day.

“For 10 years I worked in a residential home for adults with Autism, Asperger’s, and challenging behaviour. As well as providing direct care and support I was a family liaison officer. This gave me the opportunity to work with each individual resident and build relationships with them and their families, from arranging family visits, to supporting people to arrange hospital appointments.

“I loved this role as it was so important for the person being supported to know I was there to help with every situation.

“The achievement I’m most proud of was in this role.  I was supporting a lady with complex Autistic Spectrum Disorder who showed no emotional empathy. I was her key worker for three and a half years and I’ll always remember the first time she asked me for a hug.

“The role was complex and challenging, but that’s what made it so rewarding.  When it was time for a change I moved to my current role where I support older people in their own homes.

“On an average day I support people with their daily needs.  This does include personal care, but it’s so much more than that. I monitor their fluid and food intake; ensure they take their medication; support them to access their GP; and liaise with their families, as well as professionals such as district nurses and occupational therapists.

“The role is special.  Knowing that my input has given another person greater quality of life in a place where they have chosen to be.

“If you are thinking of a career in care but wondering if it’s too late, my advice is it’s never too late!

“It’s possible to start a career in care at any age with no previous experience or qualifications.

“I started at 48 and look what I’ve achieved.  It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done!”

Dr Rob Dyer, NHS Devon, said:

“The NHS is gearing up to respond to the increase in demand for health services this winter due to increase in expected serious illness, particularly in the elderly.

“The ability of health services in our acute hospitals, community hospitals and other community based services is dependent upon social care services being able to meet people’s care needs.

“Domiciliary care is a vital part of that, so it is important that the sector has sufficient funding and the workforce to provide much needed care to people in their own homes.”

There are currently around 270 jobs being advertised on the Proud to Care Devon website, www.proudtocaredevon.org.uk, with nearly 80 jobs available specifically within domiciliary care.  If you are interested in a career that helps people to live in their own home, please visit the website and have a look at the real stories.

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