Hampshire County Council hires eight new social care workers - but still has more than 30 vacancies

A RECRUITMENT drive for the social care sector is showing 'promising signs' - despite less than a dozen new starters in Hampshire.

Tuesday, 11th January 2022, 1:53 pm

Towards the end of last year, Hampshire County Council unveiled its Call to Care campaign, in a bid to fill vacancies in the social care industry.

In the past two months, eight carers have been recruited, according to a new report.

As reported this week, there are fears that people in Portsmouth have been placed into care homes unnecessarily as home social care firms struggle to find staff and deal with Covid-linked isolation and illness.

Cllr Liz Fairhurst. Picture: Sarah Standing (151925-9715)

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But there are currently more than 30 vacancies, and more are on the way.

Executive member for adult services and public health, Cllr Liz Fairhurst, stopped short of calling the campaign a success - but says there are 'green shoots' of positivity.

She said: 'I think there are some promising signs, and we will continue to progress this initiative in the coming months.

'I would say we're roughly where we expected to be by this point - it's a process that takes time with interviews to do and paperwork to fill in.'

The report, which will be presented to the health and social care select committee next week, outlines the challenges not only with recruitment but also staff retainment.

Graham Allen, the county council's director of public health and care, said: 'The strain on the workforce remains high and there is a continued high reliance on agency staff, at increased fees.

'Recruitment remains a big challenge across the care sector, and there has been significant competition for resources from other sectors in the run up to Christmas, such as retail and hospitality.'

A dedicated recruitment team has been set up by the county council, established within its partner organisation Connect2Hampshire.

The council received workforce funding from the government in November, equating to £115 per staff member.

Via another government grant, a further £210 per employee is also imminent, with the council recommending that this is spent on staff bonuses in a bid to improve retention.

As a result of the compulsory Covid-19 vaccination deadline, it's estimated that more than 100 staff members will have left the county's social care sector.

But Mr Allen reported that there are currently around 30 social care vacancies across six council-run care homes in the county.

Roughly 61 per cent of social care workers in Hampshire have also had their booster jabs.

Cllr Fairhurst said: 'There's no specific deadline - it's just a case of getting new recruits started as quickly as possible.'

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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