THERE is a ‘significant shortage’ of care workers across Wrexham, in line with the national trend as the sector struggles to recruit and retain staff.
Wrexham Council’s Safeguarding, Communities and Wellbeing scrutiny committee is to receive an update on care home commission for older people next week (Wednesday, January 11).
It highlights that vacancies in some care settings across Wrexham are higher than expected, with financial support from the Welsh Government to lessen the impact of Covid on the sector having ended.
The report, which will be presented by Marchwiel Cllr John Pritchard (Ind), lead member for adult social care, will update on the current care home position in Wrexham and commissioning by the council.
It provides local context and gives members a summary of regional recommendations made by Audit Wales.
The report states: “Wrexham’s Care Home provision is delivered through a commissioned, predominantly private market.
“The market faces a number of challenges including recruitment and retention of a sustainable and skilled workforce in a post Covid context.”
The report also gives a breakdown of the current care provision available in Wrexham.
There are 33 care homes with 1,252 beds, and 12 ‘Step Beds’ providing accommodation after a hospital admission or to try and prevent a patient needing to be transferred to hospital from the community.
The alternative to residential care in Wrexham is Extra Care Housing (ECH). There are currently two ECH facilities in Wrexham delivered in partnership with Clwyd Alyn Housing Association.
These are Plas Telford in Plas Madoc and Maes y Dderwen near the city centre. This accommodation provides 114 self-contained, accessible apartments with access to care and support on site.
But recruitment of staff is proving a challenge in Wrexham and across the country.
The report adds: “There are a number of challenges impacting on the care home market within Wrexham.
“The current, primary challenge for providers is workforce. There is a significant shortage of care workers; this is part of a national picture impacting across employment sectors. Coupled with rising energy costs; the sustainability of the market and its ability to continue to deliver quality and improving services remains a high risk.
“Covid recovery is still impacting on some homes with vacancies in some settings still higher than expected.”
While there are vacancies in the sector, the report highlights that some of the care requirements are also changing meaning providers are having to adapt.
More support for unpaid carers is also being looked at.
The report states: “Importantly and increasingly, we are able to support more and more people to remain at home which means the demand for residential care has changed.
“The point at which people may require residential care has increased and we are finding the lack of Care Homes able to accommodate EMI/ Nursing needs challenging.
“This change in demand is causing some providers to re-evaluate their place in the market; whilst some are able and willing to look at changing their Statement of Purpose to accommodate more complex needs, others are taking the opportunity to close all together and repurpose or sell their assets.
“Unpaid carers tell us that a lack of flexible and regular respite is impacting on their ability to care for their loved ones.
“The Commissioning and Contracts Team are appointing an Unpaid Carers Lead Officer to evaluate this picture and deliver options for improvement in addition to the procurement of two additional rotational respite beds which is currently out to tender.
“The short-term picture remains a challenge, however, with availability of residential respite dependent on capacity at the time of request.”
Members of the committee will discuss recommendations made by Audit Wales on actions that can be taken by the North Wales Regional Commissioning Board, of which Wrexham Council is part, to drive improvement in the sector.