Thousands of people are being turned down by care services due to the staffing crisis in social care, according to research by the National Care Forum (NCF) and The Outstanding Managers Network.

The NCF, which represents over 150 of the UK’s leading social care organisations, carried out a survey of 340 registered managers running services that employ more than 21,000 staff who support more than 15,000 people across a range of care services.

The respondents estimate that since 1 September, there has been approximately 5,000 people turned away from care services.

Two thirds of respondents reported either limiting or stopping new admissions completely

Of those respondents, 76% ran services for older people, the majority being care homes without nursing, and 24% ran domiciliary care services.

They reported an average staff vacancy of 17%, which is significantly reducing the care available since there are not enough staff to run the services that people need.

More than two thirds (67%) of respondents reported either limiting or stopping new admissions completely to care homes or refusing to take on new requests of domiciliary care. This is greatly affecting hospitals who are forced to keep healthy patients in beds since there is nowhere for them to live in the community.

One respondent said: “Previously, we took on average four hospital discharges a week, plus another three or four reablement requests for care per week from discharge to assess. In the last 12 weeks, we have only been able to take two hospital discharges due to having to reduce capacity because of staff shortages.”

“[It’s] heart-breaking turning down 10 plus requests for care that are needed a day,” said another.

The NCF are urging the government to address the crisis

The NCF are now calling on the government to implement measures that urgently address the staffing crisis in social care. These include: paying staff a retention bonus to recognise those who have continued to provide care to those who need it most; funding a pay increase for all care staff to improve recruitment and retention; adding care workers to the Shortage Occupation List for a time limited period; and delaying the implementation of mandatory vaccinations in care homes.

Jane Brightman, co-founder of the Outstanding Managers Network said: “These responses are stark reading and highlight the difficulties faced by the sector and consequently the people who use care. This has been getting worse over time and very concerning for the winter ahead.

“Care Managers are exhausted, as are their teams. They have been working tirelessly with no let-up in sight. We’ve been calling on the government to work with the sector to provide more support and opportunity to improve this dire situation. Our thanks to NCF for working with us on this survey.”