Social care bosses have made an impassioned plea for the public to stay at home “as much as they can”, as the sector experiences a “national emergency”.
Vital care is being rationed like never before and the situation is worsening each hour as care staff isolate or are off sick with the rapidly spreading Omicron variant, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass) said.
The sector was already struggling with workforce shortages before coronavirus, and carers are now having to make “excruciatingly painful choices” about who gets support.
Adass is calling for the public to “keep social activities and social contacts to a minimum”, and stay at home unless they are providing care or support.
The group said it is appealing to people to do the right thing, in the absence of any further restrictions being set out by the Government.
Adult Social Care has long been struggling w/ severe funding & workforce challenges. Staff absences due to the rapid spread of Omicron mean that there is not enough care & support for all who need it. We need everyone's help to limit the consequences of this perfect winter storm. pic.twitter.com/l2wTBoLBX8
— ADASS (@1adass) December 22, 2021
The Government’s Plan B is in operation, but the Prime Minister has said no further curbs will be introduced in England before December 25.
Adass president Stephen Chandler called for people to “please stay at home as much as you can, unless you are providing care and support”.
He said: “Staff absences due to the rapid spread of Omicron and the need to self-isolate now mean that there are not enough pairs of hands to provide care for everyone who needs it.
“Every day we are rationing care in ways that we never have before.
“We are making incredibly difficult decisions about who gets care, how much care they get and who misses out – with obvious concerns that this will lead to people becoming isolated and, ultimately, to the loss of lives.
“This is now a national emergency for social care and we need your help to limit the spread of Omicron and to make lives bearable for people over the coming weeks.”
Other “small but important steps” the public can take include providing care and support for family members where possible, checking in on neighbours, volunteering to assist the support efforts of the local council or charities, and getting a booster jab, he said.