• Monday, September 26, 2022

HEADLINE STORY

Care industry looks to India to cut shortage

CARE CREDENTIALS: Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson muck in with residents at Westport Care Home in Stephney Green. (Photo by Paul Edwards / WPA Pool / Getty Images)

By: Nadeem Badshah

‘No jab, no job’ policy adds to mounting care worker vacancies

WORKERS from India are needed to help tackle the UK’s care home staffing crisis, according to industry leaders.

They have appealed to the government to put care workers on the list of shortage occupations to fill more than 112,000 vacancies in Britain. It comes after care home Palms Row Health Care in Sheffield, Yorkshire, said it is planning to recruit staff from India.

The firm said it is considering the move over the government’s “no jab, no job” rule for workers in the sector. Since mid-November, all care home workers and anyone entering a care home need to be double jabbed unless they are medically exempt under the rules.

Nadra Ahmed OBE, chair of the National Care Association, warned the UK faces unprecedented workforce pressures in health and social care.

She told Eastern Eye, “Despite the fact that over one million people are unemployed in the UK, we have struggled to fill the over 112,000 vacancies in social care, so looking at a migrant workforce is a credible option.

“Providers have always had the option to fill vacancies from the east and this has sustained the sector, but the migrant workforce route has closed to us as the Home Office does not consider social care to have a shortage and so refuses to put the sector on the shortage occupation list.

“We are lobbying government to enable us to safely recruit from across the world to fill the gap in our workforce.

“Providers who have recruited from abroad tell us that staff from India come with a compassionate and committed work ethic which suits the needs of the elderly and vulnerable citizens who need care and support.

“We are also increasingly caring for people from minority ethnic groups, so to have a multi-cultural mix of staff will bring additional value for those who access care and support.”

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and NHS Providers, which represents hospitals, said social care workers should receive an immediate bonus of up to £1,000 to stop them quitting before the winter.

Growing numbers of care home personnel and domiciliary care workers in England are leaving to join other industries, including online delivery firms.

Ramesh Verma is founder of the Ekta Project charity, which supports Asian elders in London.

She told Eastern Eye: “The care in India is different from here. They need proper training on learning how things are here.

“[Their language skills] are important, most speak Urdu or Hindi, staff here don’t understand our culture or language.

“Communication is very important in care homes, no-one talks to them, they just sit in front of the TV.”

Verma added: “Some care homes are badly managed, they are understaffed.

“I remember seeing one Asian man in a care home with learning disabilities. I asked if he had eaten and lifted the saucepan lid and the daal was two-to-three days old and had been reheated.

“I made a complaint and it helped.” Around 70 per cent of older care home residents have dementia and research from charity John’s Campaign shows that relatives are often able to better interpret their behaviour and provide comfort.

Since March, families have been able to nominate an “essential caregiver” who can provide regular close support to a relative in a care facility.

Professor Gurch Randhawa, professor of diversity and public health at the University of Bedfordshire, said: “It’s vitally important that the UK government take a strategic approach to solving the issue of care home staff shortages.

“In the short term, they need to consider offering visas to overseas workers who have the required skills and expertise.

“In the longer term, government need to take an inclusive approach to recruitment of care home workers in the UK by reaching out to all communities and paying salaries that reflect the skills required to offer high quality care.”

In early November, it emerged that up to 32,000 care home professionals have yet to have two Covid vaccines. NHS workers in England will have to be fully jabbed by next April or risk being sacked.

The Department of Health and Social Care said on the subject that it was its “responsibility to do everything we can to protect vulnerable people”.

It added: “We are working closely with local authorities and care home providers to ensure there will always be enough staff with the right skills to deliver high-quality care.”

Eastern Eye

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