Families could be called on to help relatives because of ‘severe’ shortage of carers in Gwent

Families could be asked to step in and help relatives due to a “severe” shortage of carers in one part of Wales.

Residents in Gwent receiving community health and social care services could face changes to their support and family members may need to step in to help, according to a statement issued by local authorities on Friday.

Services are coming under strain due to an increase in demand for services as Wales moves to alert level zero and staff shortages due to vacancies and summer holidays.

Councils in Gwent are running recruitment campaigns to deal with the shortages but have warned some changes to care for some residents is likely.

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Torfaen Council Chief Officer for Social Care and Housing, Keith Rutherford, said care teams across Gwent were “facing severe pressures” due to “increasing demands for our services which have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

He said: “This is combined with long and short-term staff absences and vacancies.

“Every effort is being made to help services stay afloat, but the situation is concerning, and some difficult decisions are having to be made daily.

“The aim is to protect vulnerable members of our society by preventing services from reaching breaking point.

“We are asking individuals, families and carers to work in partnership with us, and to be understanding towards our staff.”

Gwent is not the first area in Wales to face difficulties in providing care services. Last month WalesOnline reported how familes in Swansea were being called on to feed relatives and change dressings due to what the council and health board described as a “severe staffing shortage.”

Nick Wood, Executive Director of Primary, Community and Mental Health Services at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, said it was “[exploring] every opportunity to support local people with their ongoing care needs, either in their own homes or through the significant network of service providers in the area”.

He said: “We recognise the huge challenges at this time with the availability of domiciliary care staff and the increased demand for care and support, and we would encourage all communities to work with us and the community services teams.”

Mr Wood said services in Gwent were “under intense pressure” and that this was “likely to continue for the short to medium term as we work with social care partners to increase capacity in the community and enable changes to the way in which services are delivered as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic”.

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