A huge number of nursing home and homecare providers face the prospect of going bankrupt within months – and some could even go under by the end of the month, it has been claimed.
There has been a massive rise in care staff absence levels as a result of the pandemic – it is estimated to be between 11%-16% – and the increased costs of managing that and bringing in temporary workers is taking its toll.
That, plus increased costs in buying equipment needed to deal with the pandemic, is putting the survival of many care home operators up and down the country at immediate risk, sector representatives believe.
There are fears, too, that homecare providers are seeing a continued drop in the demand for home care services as individuals and their families cancel visits due to fears over COVID-19.
Jane Townson, chief executive of the UK Home Care Association (UKHCA), said that the pandemic has had an estimated 15% negative impact on homecare revenues, mainly due to suspended or cancelled calls.
Set against an estimated 25%-35% rise in costs means that the viability of many care businesses across the country is in serious jeopardy.
There are also fears that residential care and nursing homes are going to see a fall in occupancy, not simply because of the high death rate seen across the country but also because some families are removing their loved ones from care – or not entering care in the first place, due to fears of infection.
Covid-19 is particularly deadly among the elderly and vulnerable and the long-term care sector has borne the brunt of the deaths.
Industry representatives say the sector was already at breaking point with regards to funding prior to the pandemic – and now the situation is even more dire.
They are calling on local authorities to release the additional £3.2bn that the Government has given them to deal with the pandemic.
But local councils say they are already facing a funding black hole and argue that they need more before they can help any further.