Social care crisis: ‘It’s like four foot of snow but for 18 months’ – Sheffield home care staff on burnout experiences

Overworked home care staff said the increasing demand for services is the worst they have seen in decades while recruitment is at an ‘all time low’.

By Molly Williams, Local Democracy Reporter
Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 10:35 am
Updated Tuesday, 7th December 2021, 10:35 am

Their experiences were shared in a Sheffield Council report for the education, health and care transitional committee ahead of a meeting this week.

The report highlighted how providers are under significant strain following the Covid-19 pandemic and reporting enduring and increasing issues particularly relating to staff wellbeing and burnout.

One care worker said: “It’s like four foot of snow, but for 18 months instead of 10 days.”

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Sheffield Council said home care providers are under signficiant strain and reporting enduring and increasing issues, particularly with staff wellbeing.

Another said: “Recruitment is at an all time low. We contact every person in hope, but there’s nothing.”

Others said it was the worst they had experienced in 25 years in home care and there is more pressure now than at the height of coronavirus.

The report said it is estimated that up to 32 percent of the sector’s workforce do not see care as a long-term career which may affect dedication and receptiveness to upskilling and advancing, important for those with complex needs who require staff to be further trained.

It added that staff retention was exceptionally difficult as other sectors with better wages, terms and conditions reopen for hiring and these staffing constraints have left providers with limited resources to expand their business to meet rising demand.

Council officers said: “As providers are unable to compete financially with other sectors, they are unable to attract, retain or select staff who are the appropriately skilled for the role and can provide the best quality of care, but instead left in a position where they will employ almost any staff they can, if they are to meet the systemic demand.”

How much is home care costing Sheffield Council?

The council estimates that its spend on home care has more than doubled in the past five years.

The council arranges more than 42,000 hours of home care and reablement to around 3,000 people in Sheffield every week.

It said year-on-year comparison showed that increasing demand due to larger care packages has led to increasing costs to the council.

In the 2017/18 financial year, the council spent £20 million on home care and this has gradually increased to £41.5 million this financial year.