A recruitment drive has been launched for new care workers to help look after vulnerable adults during the coronavirus pandemic.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is creating a new ‘bank’ of personal wellbeing assistants so it can meet the increased demand for adult social care due to elderly people being discharged from hospitals and shielding at home.
It will also allow the authority to plug any gaps in its current workforce resulting from workers self-isolating.
New recruits will be employed on a zero-hours basis, with work being offered ‘as and when required’.
They will be paid £10.14-an-hour – compared to the National Living Wage of £8.72 – and the council will provide full training and personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition to the hourly rate, there will be an extra monthly payment for staff providing personal care – such as bathing and helping people go to the toilet. This is expected to be £200-a-month for someone who works full-time.
The council is aiming to recruit at least 40 care workers to the new bank. There are currently around 1,500 residents in the city receiving home care from the council, and demand for the service has increased as a result of the coronavirus outbreak.
The scheme is being funded through a £1 million grant, which the government is providing to help the council meet the increased demand for adult social care.
Staff will provide ‘all aspects of care’ in people’s homes or in residential homes, including personal care, assistance with medication and support with meals.
People over the age of 70 have been advised to stay at home for the duration of the lockdown, due to them being particularly vulnerable to Covid-19.
The council is promoting the recruitment drive on social media under the #StokeCares hashtag. It follows the redeployment of 56 staff to adult social care from other council departments.
Council leader Abi Brown said: “We are seeing a number of people being discharged from hospitals so that they have the capacity to take coronavirus patients. Those people now need support in their own homes. In addition to that we are also seeing vulnerable people self-isolating at home, who will therefore need more help than before. So for a number of reasons, demand for care staff is going to be higher.
“That’s why we are looking to create this bank of workers who can support our current staff. We may also have workers who are absent because they are self-isolating.
“This is likely to be a short-term arrangement, in order to meet the current increased demand. But we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. At the moment we’ve seen fewer cases in Stoke-on-Trent compared to other parts of the country, but that could mean we’re just behind the curve.”
Mrs Brown acknowledged that care work would be inherently riskier than other jobs during the pandemic, due to contact with strangers being unavoidable.
She added: “This is why we are offering additional pay, and we will also provide people with PPE.
“I’d say to potential applicants that this is an opportunity to support their community at this time of need.”
Andy Day, co-ordinator of North Staffs Pensioners’ Convention, says it is vital that the new staff are given the right PPE.
He said: “First and foremost, they need to make sure that these workers are protected, both for the sake of service users, and so that they don’t pass on the virus to their own families. We also want to see more testing of social care staff.
“We’ve been saying all along that we want to see the community hospital beds brought back into use so people can be discharged from the Royal Stoke during this outbreak. I can sympathise with the situation that the council is in, but it’s important that people are discharged to somewhere safe.”
Various shifts will be available, between the hours of 7am and 10pm, seven days a week.
For more information, call 01782 238019, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit stoke.gov.uk/jobs