A leading care organisation is appealing for former nurses and other staff to volunteer to help them beat the coronavirus epidemic threatening the residential care sector.
Pendine Park looks after 450 residents at its eight homes in Wrexham and Caernarfon, employs over 800 staff and has been in business for over 30 years but director Gill Hughes believes even its resilience could be tested by the disease.
She said|: “We are running a big organisation but the fact is no-one knows how many of our own staff will fall ill but we do know there are already issues in some parts of Wales.
“We wish to appeal to former staff from the Pendine family who might want to come and help – they could be nurses or other staff or they could be people new to the care sector who just want to help by taking the tea tray round or answering the phone.
“We’re in a war and the enemy troops are massing, they’re in London and they’re heading out across the country and they’ll be here in a week or two.
“The social care workforce is not exactly brimming over in numbers so we can only imagine what we’re facing but we’re looking for volunteers willing to help us keep our residents safe and well and happy.
“As we move from the delay phase into mitigation we’re getting by as best we can and when the fighting really starts we’re going to be depleted in numbers and then we’re going to need help.”
Social care has been promised some of the £5bn fund announced in last week’s Budget to fight coronavirus but the government has been criticised for its lack of further action to shore up the sector.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the coronavirus money would “fund pressures in the NHS, support local authorities to manage pressures on social care and support vulnerable people, and help deal with pressures on other public services”.
But while he said the NHS would get “whatever resources it needs to cope with coronavirus”, there was no similar commitment for local authorities or for the private care sector which looks after the majority of the older people in care and those with long-term health conditions who are at particular risk from the virus.
Pendine Park owner Mario Kreft MBE added: “We’re trying to exist on unsustainable funding for publicly-funded residents from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board and the local authorities.
“But if there is a positive to be taken from the situation it is the way people at Pendine and other organisations are really stepping up to the plate.
“In the difficult months ahead social care staff are going to fall ill themselves and we will have a depleted workforce so we’re not asking people to go in and give injections to residents but there will be people with experience of the sector who can play a part while others might just want to offer to help.
“In a matter of weeks and months there might even be people who have had the virus and have immunity and their help will be valuable too.
“This is a massive challenge and we’re all in it together but we’re not looking for someone today, we’re looking for people for the future when battle is joined and we’re not looking to put people at risk.
“The private care sector in Wales looks after 220,000 people so it is a major operation and the pressure on it is going to be immense but if we’ve got a bank of people we can call on in the difficult months ahead, even if it is to hand out cups of tea then that could make the difference.”
Anyone interested in volunteering for the care sector can contact Pendine Park on 01978 720 242 (Wrexham) and 01286 476 676 (Caernarfon).