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Homecare shortage 'set to worsen', warns agency

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The UK’s shortage of homecare workers could increase to over 20,000 by the end of the decade if current trends continue, new research shows.

According to Prestige Nursing+Care an extra 1,299 care workers are needed bridge the current gap in home care. And one in five councils were found to be unable to find a care provider to deal with all care requests, having instead to rely on using in-house care and other extraordinary measures.

Care not immediately placed by UK councils amounted to an average of 332 hours in a single month-about the same as the number of hours that would be put in by three extra homecare workers.

Almost two-thirds (59%) of the nursing and care staff surveyed said they believed their role was more demanding that those in other sectors such as hospitality and tourism but 40% did not think that was mirrored by their pay, factors that recruitment problems have been put down to.

Prestige Nurse+Care’s managing director, Jonathan Bruce, said: “As the number of older people in the UK soars there is a clear shortage of carers, as councils are unable to find providers to cover requested care. While these visits aren’t missed they require the councils concerned to resort to extraordinary and often more expensive measures - including house care - to cover the gap.”

He said the shortage would be worse as the numbers needing care rose and the number of carers fell.

Data from the Office for National Statistics show that the number of carers has dropped by 10,000 (1.4%) over the last four years although the number of people aged over 65 has increased by 750,000 (7.5%), reducing the ratio of older people to care workers from 14 to 15 per carer. And if the current pattern continues the ratio will reach 19 older people per carer by 2020.


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