Care workers across Devon are set to benefit from a winter cash injection of over Â£5 million.
The one-off package, funded by the government and NHS Devon, is to help ease the pressure on hospitals and encourage residential and nursing care firms to recruit and retain care staff.
The sector helps people avoid going into hospital, but if they do it helps get them out as soon as they are well enough.
However, many patients who need subsequent care have to stay in hospital longer than necessary becauseÂ of staffing problems in the care system â€“ a national issue.
Care home providers are being asked to ensure their care staff benefit from the winter payment, which will be equivalent to about Â£500 per worker. The money follows another cash injection in Devon earlier this month worth Â£3 million for domiciliary care staff.
Councillor James McInnes Â cabinet member for adult social care, said: â€œThis is another very welcome injection of money from the government and comes at a time when our social care workforce is very hard-pressed.
â€œI want to see every care worker and those supporting them paid a fair wage that matches what their counterparts in the NHS get paid. This grant doesnâ€™t solve that but it is an important measure to help to keep the people of Devon safe this winter.
â€œCare homes have been under huge pressure over the last 18 months and they have worked incredibly hard to keep free of outbreaks of covid-19 or, where it has occurred in a home, to keep it as controlled as possible.
â€œThe staff in the homes have worked tirelessly and I am pleased to be able to allocate this grant to recognise that loyal service and to encourage new people to come forward and join the team.â€
Lucy Bull, director of Devon Care Homes Collaborative, and manager of Castle Grove Nursing Home, said: â€œFinally, some well-deserved recognition to the care workers who have sacrificed so much during this pandemic.â€
â€œEvery single care assistant in the county has faced hardship this year, both emotionally and financially. Itâ€™s their unrelenting dedication to the job that has seen residents continue to enjoy quality of life during this most difficult of times.â€
â€œThis winter payment is a small step to acknowledging the true value and worth of care staff across Devon, but it must not stop there as thereâ€™s much more that needs to be done.
â€œThis needs to be seen as the stepping stone towards improving wages longer term, which in turn will lead to employing even more great carer workers who we will be able to keep for longer.â€œ
The extra money for staff comes after Devon County Council recently estimated that around 2,000Â adult social care vacancies remain unfilled across the county, with Cllr McInnes previously warning that â€œthere simply arenâ€™t enough people coming forward.â€
The council, like many local authorities across the country, is also facing significant financial pressures on adult social care, with its most recent budget forecast indicating an overspend of around Â£5 million on the service in this financial year.
As a result, its ruling cabinet has announced plans to spend over 10 per cent more on the service from next April â€“ a cash injection of Â£18.2 million.
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