Wiltshire's care crisis
By Trevor Carbin
The next few months will be a difficult time for Wiltshire's care system. A report to the council's Health Scrutiny Committee explains that Covid, staff shortages, and the usual winter problems such as flu, are causing a crisis.
Demand for care home places is at an 'unprecedented' level. This has led to the re-emergence of bed-blocking, with scores of Wiltshire residents waiting in hospital with nowhere to go. Where people are able to be discharged, lack of help means over a quarter of them are back in hospital within a month.
A new phenomenon of 'Social Admission' had been identified. This is where people are admitted to hospital not necessarily for any particular illness, but because the care system can't look after them.
At the same time as demand is increasing, so is the number of staff vacancies. Nearly 800 people have left over the last six months. A few of these are staff who have refused to be vaccinated, or have moved to other providers, but most are people moving out of the sector altogether.
The report includes an example of what's happening: in November a domiciliary provider in Wiltshire became insolvent, and abandoned both clients and staff at zero notice. The council had to step in and resolve the situation.
The Department of Health and Social Care has provided a long list of requirements for local authorites, not all of which have yet been carried out in Wiltshire.
The government has also provided funding so wages could be increased, but this is not enough to resolve the problem.
Wiltshire Council has a 'long term plan', though this cannot solve the crisis, but only tries to slow the pace of disintegration.
The meeting is on January 11th in County Hall. The committee is asked by those who run the social care system simply to 'note the situation'.