CQC in its latest insight issue 15, has published crucial data which highlights the extent of the growing care staff shortage crisis. Within this issue, the CQC has emphasised the rising care staff vacancies, adding to the growing pressure from staff shortage in the social care industry. The CQC conclude, that those affected the most are care homes and home care services.
This shortage in staff has been attributed to the continuing threat from the retail and hospitality sector, which can offer higher salaries than providers. Additionally, these sectors do not require a mandatory vaccination which came into effect on the 11th November for social care staff, exacerbating the existing staff shortage. The CQC also highlight that many staff from adult social care are taking up vacant posts in hospitals in registered nurse positions. All of these combined, has led to the CQC warning that staff may continue to leave.
Information gathered by the CQC has been collated from providers of residential care homes through the provider information return (PIR). This data, gathered from 8,260 services representing 54% of total residential care homes, and has shown an increase in vacancy rates between April 2021 and September 2021, which continued on a upwards trend right through to December 2021. The vacancy rate was at 6% in April 2021, and gradually increased each month and in December 2021 stood at 11.5%. The CQC’s data would suggest that this will continue to rise in the forthcoming months in 2022.
This staff vacancy data, was further analysed in order to assess which region was being hit at a higher rate in proportion to the rest of the country and national average. It was found that,
“The regions with vacancy rates higher than the England average are the South East, the South West, the East of England and London, whereas the regions with lower than average rates are the Midlands, the North East and Yorkshire and the North West.”
No explanation was offered in the CQC’s insight for the higher vacancy rate in the South East, South West and London, and it remains to be seen whether the CQC will acknowledge this and give it consideration when inspecting homes within those regions, particularly when assessing and judging current staffing levels.
Furthermore, the CQC has stated that it will monitor and publish vacancy figures in the forthcoming months. Whilst also aiming to provide more context from the adult social care PIRs to understand the exact reasons, which are driving the vacancies rate upwards. In order to do this, they will be continuing to carry out adult social care workforce surveys conducted by inspectors during their conversations with residential and home-care services. This will aim to explore the impact and assess the workforce challenges social care faces in response to the staffing shortages. This includes examining the effect it will have on the service and existing staff delivering a service.
With mounting pressure on the social care industry amidst a difficult winter and continuing spread of Omicron. The CQC has reiterated that it will increase the number of infection, prevention and control inspections over the winter months, whilst also expanding them to gather information on visiting practices. This is part of their risk based approach, and with a higher risk of infection during the winter, it seems the CQC will reflect this with increased inspection activity in the forthcoming months.