Low wages and job stability contribute to Derbyshire care home staff crisis

Issues over low pay and job stability have played a part in Derbyshire County Council’s care home staffing problems, a union leader has stated – as the authority continues to struggle with 30 per cent of its workforce off sick.

By Christina Massey
Tuesday, 1st February 2022, 10:36 am

Derbyshire’s council-employed care home workers earn between £18,933 and £19,311 a year, or between £9.81 and £10.01 an hour.

While this is higher than the average care home worker rate of £8.90 an hour, it is £2,500 to £3,000 lower than the authority’s median wage of £21,999 and more than £10,000 less than the UK average full time wage of £29,600.

James Eaden, of Chesterfield and District TUC, said that while low wages are a national issue in the care sector, the authority’s proposal to close seven of its care homes has been a factor in staffing shortages as well.

Issues over low pay and job stability have played a part in Derbyshire County Council’s care home staffing problems, a union leader has stated – as the authority continues to struggle with 30 per cent of its workforce off sick. (Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images)

He said: “Because of the uncertainty of the future of the care homes quite a lot of DCC staff have been looking for other jobs.

Mr Eaden continued: “I have spoken to a number of people personally who have left, or work in care homes where a number of staff have left – that’s one of the driving factors.”

A couple of weeks ago, the authority took the desperate measure of appealing for volunteers from its general workforce to help out in its care homes, as many staff members were coming down ill with the Omicron variant of Covid.

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said staffing continues to be a challenge in the adult social care department, as well as across the social care and health system as a whole.

The spokesperson said: “The absence rate for care staff is currently around 30 per cent and we have so far been able to maintain services by redeploying care staff to areas where they are most needed.

“This has meant that so far we haven’t needed to utilise people across the council who volunteered to support us in these challenging times.

“We’re extremely grateful to everyone who volunteered and this remains an option open to us in the future should the need arise.”

Derbyshire County Council employs around 30,000 people on salaries that range from £17,840 to £175,929.