Big rise in staff sickness levels in Nottinghamshire care sector

Staff sickness within Nottinghamshire’s social care sector has increased “considerably” in the last year, Nottinghamshire County Council papers show.
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There are concerns over sickness levels in the sector which have increased from an average of 14 days a year in February 2021 to 21 days a year in the last 12 months.

This is partly due to Covid and other illnesses, but stress was listed as one of the top three main reasons for absences.

The figures were discussed during the county council’s adult social care and public health committee on March 14, where it was also revealed that £2.73 million of savings are now expected in 2022-23 and 2023-24.

The social care sector in Nottinghamshire has seen a big rise in staff sickness casesThe social care sector in Nottinghamshire has seen a big rise in staff sickness cases
The social care sector in Nottinghamshire has seen a big rise in staff sickness cases

Council papers stated that despite adult social care standing down its emergency response to the pandemic, ‘significant pressures remain, with workforce shortages still being experienced across the health and care system’.

They added: “This is affecting all independent sector frontline care services, and commissioners are projecting no increased capacity for the next six months within home care or within supported living due to workforce shortages.

“This is despite all the mitigations in place.

"The department is also continuing to face challenges recruiting and retaining social workers, community care officers and occupational therapists.

"This means that people are waiting longer for services.”

Council papers further stated that although recruitment continued to be ‘challenging’, an extra 24 social workers had been recruited by the authority in the last year.

Coun David Martin (Ashd Ind) said: “This financial report really brings home the challenges faced by the authorities like ours – especially with recruitment and rising staff absences.”

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Coun Paul Henshaw (Ash Ind), who works in the sector, added: “The social care staff we employ and in the wider community have gone that extra mile during this pandemic.

“One of the things this committee can do is use the officers and the leader of the council and lobby the Government in relation to the social care crisis.

“We need to be asking the government to free some money up because there is still a crisis in social care and we are trying to make the best of a bad job. It is very difficult at times.”

Melanie Brooks, corporate director, adult social care and health, said it had been ‘traumatic’ working in social care for the past two years.

She continued: “Our staff well-being and those of the 22,000 people that work in social care in the county more generally is one of our biggest concerns.

“Social care did not pause or stop during the pandemic.

"The impact of that for staff is while other people were sheltering from the risk of infection, in adult social care people continued.

“We do know that those changes are what staff are telling us is an impact into their increased absence.

“We have seen that internally but we certainly know that from the adult social care workforce.

"As everybody knows, we only employ a portion of the 22,000 people.

“Our mental health first aiders are offering sessions and we have some time to talk sessions for staff for anybody who has experienced trauma.”

There are also mounting pressures in the sector in the city, with some job adverts attracting zero applicants.

And figures from January 2022 showed around 1,200 new home care workers were required in the county to fix the social care crisis.

Coun Mike Pringle (Lab) said: “My concern is I would like to see the roads painted gold at everybody’s house that we go to but I know that’s not going to be the case.

“I am really concerned about these other savings that have got to be made.”

Coun Matt Barney (Con) added: “We’ve referenced several times the 22,000 staff who every day are doing extraordinary things.

“We are so acutely aware of the pressures and the difficulties.”