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Staff shortages trigger warnings of stretched community care services

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Community health and social care service providers in Swansea are alerting residents to expect short-term changes in the way community based support is delivered across the region to ensure the most vulnerable are protected.

The Council and Health Board say that services such as district nursing and domiciliary care are currently experiencing a severe staffing shortage, and while services are collectively pulling out all the stops to minimise the impact, the reality is that families may need to be called upon to work closely with staff to help provide care for their loved ones.

Swansea Bay University Health Board and Swansea Council say they are both monitoring the situation closely, and have already reallocated resources in order to minimise staffing gaps on some shifts. 

The teams are working closely to prioritise services in order to safeguard those who are most vulnerable. Other short-term options plans are being activated, which means people receiving services may get a phone call over the coming days asking them to consider some of the following to help:

  • Combining their current support requirements into fewer visits
  • Changing the time and duration of visits
  • Asking family members for support, where possible
  • Asking family members to assist with meal preparation, and ensuring they take their medication correctly
  • Teaching individuals or family members to undertake simple nursing tasks, such as changing a dressing.
District nursing and domiciliary care services in Swansea are currently experiencing a severe staffing shortage

Tanya Spriggs, Group Nurse Director for Primary Care, Community and Therapy Services in Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: “We have explored every available option to prevent our services from becoming overwhelmed. The next step is to consider how our services can be temporarily adapted to ensure those with the most critical care and support needs are prioritised.

“Referrals to district nursing and our acute clinical teams are individually assessed to determine the type of intervention a person requires. With caseloads constantly expanding, we may ask families and carers to work in partnership with us to deliver interventions in different ways. This will look and feel different to the pre-pandemic service, but will be as safe and robust as possible.”  

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Staffing levels within domiciliary care services are also affected, with large numbers of care workers seeking employment in other sectors. 

David Howes, Director of Social Services at Swansea Council, said: “Every effort is being made to find creative solutions to help services stay afloat, but the situation is alarming and some difficult decisions are having to be made on a daily basis.

“Community services are a lifeline for vulnerable people who rely on the support provided by health and social care services. We are working with the Health Board to reconfigure the way we do things in order to protect and bolster the help we can provide to those who need us most.”

The ultimate aim is to prevent services from reaching breaking point by building a resilient network of support comprising of families, carers and statutory health and social care service providers.

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