Dr Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the ARC South London, introduces a new study. Caroline works within the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration South London: Social Care Theme at HSCWRU.
“Our work is to care for the most vulnerable in society and after the pandemic… [the costs of living crisis] is more reason why providers will be closing homes” (A small care home provider)
The United Kingdom (UK) is currently experiencing the steepest rise of inflation in the past 30 years. Consumer prices in February 2022 were 6.2% higher compared to the previous year. The Bank of England estimates that inflation may rise to 9% in 2022 (Francis-Devine et al. 2022 Rising cost of living in the UK – House of Commons Library (parliament.uk)). For people living in the UK, this means increased costs of living, including fuel, energy and food prices. This is also the case for care homes and people working in them, which next to the rise of living costs are still facing Covid-19 related restrictions, staff shortages as well as further rises in operational costs and taxes.
Exploratory discussions over the past few weeks with small to medium sized care home providers and some care professionals has shown the need to understand the effects of rising cost on the care home sector and workforce, which is still grappling with the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. One small care home provider told us about their concern that even more care homes will have to shut down due to financial pressures, which could further exacerbate the critical situation in social care:
“The cost of living increase is further exacerbating an already difficult time for care homes. We have spiralling food costs, fuel costs and energy bills on top of the introduction of the health and social care tax as well as increasing staff costs. Couple this up with homes having to lock down due to Covid outbreaks and not being able to accept new admissions and we have a real crisis” (A small care home provider)
A new study placed within the ARC South London’s social care theme is on the way to explore the effects of the rise of living costs crisis on small to medium sized care home enterprises in London as well as the people working in them. Our research will involve qualitative interviews with care home providers and a survey sent out to people working in care homes to get a clearer picture of the rea- life experiences of increasing costs and what consequences this may have on care homes as well as the people working and living in them. At the same time, we will contextualise the research with data on the increases of local authority fees for care home beds and the general economic and social climate two years after the pandemic started.
For information on the study and how to get involved please contact Dr Caroline Emmer De Albuquerque Green, Post-Doctoral Fellow at the ARC South London at email@example.com