Staffing crisis in South East care homes could delay hospital discharges this winter, experts warn

  • Watch the full report by ITV Meridian's Kit Bradshaw

There are concerns that care homes across the South East are facing a staffing crisis, with fears it could delay hospital discharges this winter.

ITV Meridian has spoken to some providers who are missing 20% of their workforce, with the looming requirement for carers to be double-jabbed only adding to the problem.

The government says it's working to ensure there will always be enough staff, but the National Care Association has described the situation as a "perfect storm".

Courtney McCormick said it's "quite tough" as staff work longer hours to make up numbers Credit: ITV Meridian

Courtney McCormick has worked as a domiciliary carer for 18 months, looking after people in their own homes.

She said staff are feeling more tired because they are working weekends and starting shifts earlier to make up for the lack of staff.

Courtney said: "We'll be picking up more calls from earlier in the day, to make up for the staff not being here. You do feel more tired, you're waking up in the morning and you just know you're doing it for someone else and you've got to have that willpower to get up and do your job."

"It's definitely a good job to do. You feel good for helping other people and I'd rather do care than work in a shop all day because it's more rewarding."

Caremark in Tunbridge Wells is among those in the region, struggling to recruit new staff. The manager said the availability of foreign workers is among the causes for the 20% gap in their workforce.

Simon Rowland, Care Manager, Caremark Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge & Malling said: "There has always been a certain percentage of overseas workers and a lot of them went home through the pandemic and haven't returned. Likewise, Brexit has caused a shortage of people able to come over to the UK to work."

  • Simon Rowland, Care Manager, Caremark Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge & Malling¬†

The firm is also finding the new jab rules are putting off some potential applicants.

Emma Spink, Recruitment Manager, Caremark said: "The fact that you have to be vaccinated to work in a care home now is making domiciliary carers a little bit more concerned about working in the industry. What we're doing with regards to trying to get people in the door is to offer them salaried positions."

There are fears staffing issues in care homes across the South East could delay hospital discharges this winter Credit: ITV Meridian

In Canterbury, the Diagrama Foundation care home group has a 10% staff vacancy rate.

David McGuire, Chief Executive, Diagrama Foundation said it's the highest staffing gap he can remember.

He said: "We need to think outside of the box. We are trying to show them how fun it is to work in this sector and how this could be a career. It's not just something that you do because you don't find any other job. I've been 21 years working in this sector and I love it."

Nadra Ahmed, Executive Chairman, National Care Association said the staffing shortages could add pressure on hospitals, as winter approaches.

She said: "We are heading towards that terrible term; the perfect storm.

"We're hearing about providers who are actually saying we haven't got the staff to open up all our beds. The challenge with that is we'll start to see the NHS feel that pressure because they won't be able to discharge out of the service."