Health and Wellbeing

Council calls for people to step forward now to help Devon’s care sector

one person holding the hand of another person in a caring way

Posted on: 18 August 2021

Devon County Council and the NHS has issued 23,000 ‘thank you’s – one to every care worker working in the county council area – for going above and beyond to keep vulnerable people safe and well throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

But with the entire health and care system at full stretch the County Council says the situation is becoming unsustainable, and is calling for over 1,000 more people to join the care workforce, and for families and communities to do all they can help ease the pressure.

Photo of Councillor James McInnes

Councillor James McInnes

“We all know that the whole health and care system is under tremendous pressure right now and it’s clear that we are all experiencing this together,” said Cllr James McInnes, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for adult health and social care.

“Everyone – care and support workers, doctors, nurses, our hospitals and voluntary and community groups – have all done a fabulous job to keep us safe and well throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“Devon has an army of unsung and often forgotten care workers in care homes, the homes of vulnerable people, and other settings up and down the county every day, helping and supporting those that cannot look after themselves.

“I want to thank every one of the 23,000 care workers in the county, working all hours and putting their own safety second to the needs of the people they support, keeping our most vulnerable residents safe, well and cared for. And I want to thank the thousands of unpaid carers who are providing huge amounts of support to their families and friends.

“These caring care roles are essential, and working alongside community health staff, they are vital in helping keep people out of hospital.

“But the sustained pressure on them, and all staff in the health and care system, is beginning to tell, and they are also now struggling to cope.

“Care providers can only provide care to vulnerable people if the workforce is there, and with coronavirus impacting on care staff, just as it is everyone, we quite simply do not have enough care workers in Devon right now.”

Thousands of care job vacancies are being advertised in Devon today, and with care staff off work – self-isolating because of coronavirus, or because they’re otherwise unwell – care companies are struggling.

It means vulnerable people are at risk of not receiving the care they need when they need it. And that more people are finding themselves as unpaid carers, caring for loved ones and friends or neighbours, in the absence of there being enough paid care staff available.

“23,000 is a lot of care workers, but we need more,” says James McInnes.

“And we need them quickly. We are bringing in care workers from outside Devon, but that’s not a long-term or fair solution, given that their own communities may also be in need of care workers. The situation is becoming unsustainable.

“We are making an appeal today for people to come forward from communities across Devon.

“In Exeter we need about 300 people. In North Devon and Torridge, we need another 300 people, and another 300 needed in care roles across Teignbridge and South Hams. 150 people are needed each in East Devon and Mid Devon areas, and around 100 people are needed right now in West Devon.

“That many new recruits into social care would make a very real difference to the people who need support right now. We can help with training for those without it. We can match you up with where your skills are needed and the kind of work you want to do.

“So, we are asking, if you have worked in care before but left, can you return? Even if that is just for the next few months to help us over this period of greatest pressure.

“If you’re a personal assistant and have capacity to help, can you come forward?

“If you’ve not worked in care, but want to help, a warm welcome awaits you, regardless of age and experience. We need people who are compassionate, can communicate well and are ready to commit themselves to the rewarding range of roles on offer. If you have those skills we can train and support you and offer you the role that will suit you best.

“If you have time to spare as a volunteer, please get in touch.

“If you’re a family with elderly or vulnerable relatives, or you’re friends with someone who needs support, what can you do?

“Today is our call to action. Today is your opportunity to make somebody else’s life better.”

Doctor Len Lofts, CEO of Northam Care Trust in North Devon employs 230 staff in supporting people in a range of services including domiciliary, residential, supported living, day services, community and enabling services.  He said:

“I’m lucky to have wonderful staff working really hard to support people, but the Trust needs more.

“Right now, the shortage of care workers means that most organisations in social care just can’t do as much as they want to, including the Trust. We want to do more.

“Devon needs more people working in our brilliant care sector, never more so than right now.”

Contact Devon County Council now and register your interest by visiting https://devon.cc/findyourcalling leaving your name, contact details and a postcode, and the council’s recruitment team will get back to you. Or visit https://devon.cc/socialcarecareers to find the latest care job vacancies, apprenticeships and training opportunities in the care sector in Devon.

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