CHESHIRE East has 75 full time vacancies it is struggling to fill at its Care4CE service provider at a time when pressure is mounting with more people needing care.

The council is ramping up its recruitment efforts but Jill Broomhall, operational director of adult social care at Cheshire East Council, told members of the adults and health committee at Sandbach on Monday, the private sector was struggling too, with lower paid staff leaving for higher paid jobs in other sectors and managers being head-hunted.

And she said agency staff costs had spiralled.

Mrs Broomhall said: “Currently we have 75 full time equivalent vacancies in Care4CE. We have 10 social work vacancies covered by agency staff.

“The hourly rate for agency staff covering social work vacancies has increased in the past two years from £27 an hour for a qualified worker to £35 an hour, with some agencies now requesting £40 an hour for a social worker.”

She said the council is advertising vacancies on social media, simplifying its recruitment process and is also in discussion with local radio around an overall recruitment drive for social care as well as talking to a number of local colleges.

And it’s looking at a retention package for staff.

“We’ve increased the number of apprenticeships that we have for social care,” she said. “Also our People Helping People community services are undertaking the non-personal care aspect of domiciliary care, shopping etc.”

The adult social care boss said external providers are facing severe challenges with the care at home market and residential care.

“There are something like 2,000 hours per week staff time in the external agencies currently covered via agency workers across care at home and residential care,” said Mrs Broomhall.

“Major recruitment issues for qualified nursing within care homes and we hear of £75 an hour for a nurse in a nursing home under agency.

“We’re seeing registered managers move between providers, they’re being headhunted by different care homes, so managers are moving and that causes instability within care homes.

“All in all, adult social care and health across the whole system are facing real challenges currently from staffing but it is also due to rising numbers of Covid infections over the past two weeks.”