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Care academy launched last summer only has seven recruits, councillors told

A WIDELY-PUBLICISED academy launched by Carmarthenshire Council to attract carers has seven recruits since being launched last summer, a meeting heard.

The Care Academi was created by the authority to try to shore up its care workforce. Open to all ages but geared more towards younger people it offers training, placements, qualifications and a chance to explore other social work roles.

The council plays a key role in domiciliary care – keeping mainly elderly people independent by helping with washing, hoisting, dressing and taking medication. Its in-house domiciliary care team looks after 37% of those in need of the service in Carmarthenshire, and wants to increase this share to 50%. It commissions the remainder from the independent sector.

Like all local authorities Carmarthenshire is battling to recruit and retain carers, and a report before the health and social services scrutiny committee said the number of care hours actually delivered has declined from 13,000 hours per week in February 2021 to 10,000 hours in February this year. And 600 of those 10,000 hours were for people in settings known as extra care facilities rather than in their own homes.

The report said: “This would suggest that despite best efforts, the recruitment and retention work is not having the intended impact on increasing the care hours available although it is fair to say that without it the position would be worse.”

It said Carmarthenshire currently had more people assessed as needing care than care hours available.

Speaking at the committee meeting, a council officer, in a response to a question by Cllr Hefin Jones, said the Care Academi had seven recruits and would be recruiting again from schools.

She said the apprentices did placements in residential and day settings and would be supported in management and social work training if they wished to do it. She said creating a career pathway was key.

She said: “What we do know is that working as a carer is not always attractive to young people, as they think, ‘Where do I go from here? I don’t want to be a carer for the rest of my life’.”

As well as the Care Academi, the council is holding recruitment events to bolster its in-house domiciliary care team in areas of the county where numbers are particular challenge, including an event in St Clears on Wednesday, April 19.

The council also arranged a carers awards ceremony and has a social care champions scheme, with champions from providers visiting schools and colleges.

The report before the committee said that the number of people waiting for a package of care in the community, rather than in hospital, had decreased since a peak in November last year when it exceeded 120 to around last 70 month.

The number of people waiting in hospital for an onward package care has also dropped from a peak of 67 last September to 35 a month ago, although it had fallen to 19 in late January. A fortnightly meeting takes place to review long hospital waits, which the report said has had a considerable impact.

It added that extra staff training meant that fewer people receiving domiciliary care needed two carers for each home visit. The council said it was committed to ensuring that care staff had fair employment terms offering financial stability, including contracted hours and Government-approved mileage rates.

Cllr Jane Tremlett, cabinet member for health and social services, said positive steps had been taken, but that there was still a need to for mitigate the risk for those waiting for care.

The committee noted the report and will receive regular domiciliary care updates in future meetings.