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A leading social care organisation is calling for an immediate cash boost for social care and new recruits to support its “exhausted” workforce and ensure vital services for elderly and disabled people do not collapse as the COVID-19 pandemic hits a new peak.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) is also issuing an urgent plea for anyone with experience of care work to consider returning to the job to help the care sector get through the coming weeks.

The cry for more support for the social care sector comes after ADASS says “alarming gaps” are appearing in social care teams through infection, self-isolation and fatigue as the sector, which had existing vacancies of 112,000 prior to the pandemic, is being expected to ease the strain on the NHS by supporting people discharged from hospital to free up beds.

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ADASS says that extra funding is needed this week to pay for additional staff and care.

James Bullion, ADASS president, said: “Like our NHS colleagues, social care workers have never been under such pressure. They are doing more than ever before, but absences are high and rising and our capacity to keep vital services going is at grave risk.

“We need funding, now, to enable care providers to recruit extra skilled pairs of hands and we are asking anyone who has done care work in the past to think very seriously about returning to help us get through this. Every single person who steps forward will be making a huge contribution.”

ADASS has asked for an additional £480 million in England to increase the provision of care at home for older and disabled people so that they can live independently, with good support, and can be kept out of hospital for as long as possible.

The association is also seeking extra help for family carers who are providing the most intense support for loved ones. It says an extra direct payment of £50 a week for carers during the worst of the pandemic to enable them to pay for respite breaks and keep going until the pandemic eases.

“Family carers are playing a vital part in our national struggle against this deadly virus,” continued James. “If we fail to back them up, we will pay a high price when those they support fall back on the health and care services.”

With news that a major supermarket chain, Morrisons, is to pay its staff a minimum of £10 an hour from April, when many care workers are only paid £8.91, ADASS is urging a major overhaul of pay and conditions for care workers.

The association is calling for a national care wage of at least £10.90 and significant investment in training and creation of career paths to put social care work on a par with that in the NHS.

James concluded: “The extraordinary courage and dedication shown by our 1.5 million care workers during the Covid-19 crisis must be recognised. The pandemic has opened people’s eyes to the essential contribution they make to our society for such relatively low reward.”

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